Jérôme Nouhouaï was born in 1973, in Abomey, Republic of Benin. He has taken part in the Caravane du livre, a project to promote reading in African schools, and currently works for a research institute in Benin. Nouhouaï has written two novels: Le piment des plus beaux jours (Le Serpent à Plumes, 2010), a darkly ironic portrait of student life in Benin, and La mort du lendemain (Présence Africaine, 2010), a revenge tale set against a backdrop of poverty, corruption and civil war.
Featured Reading Group Title:
Le piment des plus beaux jours
Nelson Kangni is a second year Law student. He shares a one-bedroom flat with two other students: Jojo, an engineer, obsessed with girls and money, and Malcolm, a brooding Pan-African intellectual. Ordinarily a conscientious student, Nelson finds himself distracted by Josiane, the captivatingly beautiful daughter of a former government minister with a very watchful eye.
While Nelson makes slow progress in the business of seduction, the terrible Jojo spends all his time in bed with a rich family’s young maid, and Malcolm is consumed by darker thoughts. The Lebanese are the root of all the country’s problems, he explains to a dubious Nelson; they are greedy, racist, faithless and lawless. When a Lebanese shopkeeper is attacked, another has his business burnt to the ground, and a third is kidnapped and found dead, Nelson’s suspicions turn to Malcolm.
This funny, fiercely ironic debut offers a rare portrait of life in Benin, and a new take on racism and xenophobia.
- This title features as part of our Spring 2013 French reading group.
- Download Ruth Clarke’s sample translations: Introduction andExplosion.