Thursday, August 6, 2009

So Long A Letter by Mariama Ba

"So Long a Letter" by Mariama Ba is a spectacular book. Ramatoulaye is a widow when the novel begins. We meet her while she is in mourning. Soon, we learn about the other sorrows of her heart. Times throughout which she cried and cried. Her healing strength comes through writing this letter to Aissatou. Because the friendship means so much to her Ramatoulaye names her daughter after Aissatou. I thought this was a beautiful way of showing appreciation for a friend who always had a listening ear and a nonjudgmental heart.

In this letter to Aissatou, Ramatoulaye gives details about her marriage to Madou Fall. This lengthy letter is like a flashback in time. Both Aissatou and Ramatoulaye faced the identical situation with their men. Each woman chose a different way to handle their new circumstances. Still, neither woman judges the other woman.

I adored the book for so many reasons. I loved the friendship between the two African women. I enjoyed learning about the West African culture and I liked learning more about the African male. At the last page, I had my pen ready to write down other titles by Mariama Ba. Unfortunately, this is her first and last novel. "Ba died tragically in 1981 in Dakar after a long illness, just before her second novel Le Chant Ecarlate appeared. "So Long A Letter" by Mariamb Ba is translated from the French by Modupe Bode-Thomas.

If anyone can translate the French phrase, I would appreciate knowing the name of the novel in English.

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