Advertisement

NONFICTION

THE ABANDONED BAOBAB: The Autobiography of a Senegalese Woman by Ken Bugul, translated by Marjolijn de Jager (Lawrence Hill Books: $18.95, cloth; $9.95, paper; 159 pp.). It’s a truism: Readers respond to seduction, not bullying, so passionate beliefs rarely find an audience unless watered down or translated into fiction. Ken Bugul, to her credit, has stuck by her convictions in “The Abandoned Baobab,” but the result, unfortunately if predictably, is a half-formed book that emphasizes blame at the expense of insight. Bugul--born and raised in colonized Senegal, her real name is Marietou M’Baye--has every reason to be angry: It wasn’t until she went on a college scholarship to Europe, the apparent “promised land,” that she realized her missionary-school education had virtually destroyed her sense of self, indeed, her culture. That message is important and moving, but compromised by Bugul’s willingness to regard her subsequent problems--drug-taking, occasional prostitution, thoughts of suicide--as products of colonialism.


Advertisement
Advertisement