Madagascar: Short Stories and Poems

Yet another country with not a lot to choose from book wise. In fact, I was only able to find one book in English: Voices from Madagascar: An Anthology of Contemporary Francophone Literature. Malagasy authors are not well known outside their own nation, maybe some French speakers have read something, but apparently before this book there was nothing translated into English.

It is interesting to read stories from Madagascar, because to me it is such an exotic place with its glorious wildlife. Interestingly enough Madagascar does have quite a compelling literary history. They had a local press in the local language years before colonization. Orally told stories have been around for ages, and manuscripts have been written on tree bark.

The anthology has all the stories and poems written both in English and in French. I am not usually reading poems or short stories, because I am all about novels, but sometimes it is refreshing to read something totally different, and quite frankly it never hurts to do that.

Based on the anthology quite a lot of Malagasy writing is about family, family members, love and the native island. Independence and post-colonialism cannot be avoided either, but to be fair, these subjects are important and delicate, and should definitely not be easily forgotten. The anthology contains also a bit of peculiar writings, for example crematorium poems.

It is hard for me to pick my favourite short story and poem. However, one of the most memorable short stories is called ‘Case Closed’. “The woman stopped crying and opened up her dead baby’s stomach. The knife tore into the skin, sunk itself into the flesh, already blue. No blood flowed. She pulled out the entrails. Cut. Pulled out the small heart, dissected the veins.” Did not expect to read something like this. Sounds more like Patricia Cornwell or Stephen King.

The book gives insights to what it is to be a Malagasy, bits and pieces from the history of the island, as well as life on the island. I would definitely recommend this to readers who love short stories and poetry. You will definitely get something new out of it!

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