Alexandre Biyidi, aka Mongo Beti, aka Eza Boto

“Mongo Beti: (Real name Alexandre Biyidi, 1932-2001) Cameroonian novelist, writing in French. Biyidi used the pen name Eza Boto for his first novel, Ville Cruelle (1953). Thereafter, as Mongo Beti, he published Le Pauvre Christ de Bomba (1956; tr. The Poor Christ of Bomba, 1971), Mission terminee (1957; tr Mission to Kala, 1964) and Le Roi miracule (1958; tr King Lazarus, 1971). Taken together, his novels present a picture of social life and attitudes during the French colonial period in Africa. On the surface, Biyidi’s novels are inventive and ribald, but they are also an insistent, satirical attack on colonialism, the misunderstandings it occasioned, and the tragic waste it produced. After a period of silence, Biyidi returned to publishing. Only this time, his work focused on the postindependence rulers and the terrible price ordinary Africans have had to pay under these regimes. The tone of these recent novels has become more serious, fabulous, and allegorical. These works include Perpetue ou l’habitude du Malheur: roman (1974; tr Perpetua and the Habit of Unhappiness, 1978), Remember Ruben (1974; tr 1980) and La ruine presque cocasse d’un polichinelle (1979), which is a sequel to Remember Ruben and has yet to be translated.”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.

 

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