Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Dark Child by Camara Laye

Title: The Dark Child
Author: Camara Laye
ISBN: 080901548X
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, NY/1954
Pages: 188
Genre: Memoir

I received this book from Dewey via Weekly Geeks. I asked three question about this book to her and she sent it to me. The title had interested me.

Although this is pegged as a memoir, it reads like a well written novel, holding our interest till the end. Camara Laye was born in Koroussa, French Guinea. Here he speaks about his life there, his father being a village Goldsmith, his mother with supernatural powers, his own growing up years. He reflects about the various traditions and primeval rituals. He has to choose between staying there or going for academic success to distant lands.

Laye speaks of his childhood bringing vivid images for us. We can sense the dilemma in his mind for his roots and as well as pursuing higher education. He desperately desires to go to Paris and yet is torned apart to leave his family. He is nostalgic about all that. This might be his autobiography but it has that universal feel. People who come from primeval cultures have to face this kind of thoughts where they are pulled apart. Laye's writing is in simplistic words and very readable. Here we get to know a lot about his people, his culture, the rituals and place.