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Cultural Appropriation : the latest novel by Timothy de Fombelle threatened to boycott the United States

In his new novel, Alma, the wind rises, Timothée de Fombelle tells of the wanderings of a young African in quest of his brother. The story, located in the Eighteenth century in full trans-atlantic slave trade, however, could not see the light of day in the United States and the United Kingdom, such as the entrust the French writer, to the Point .

"I was at the outset cautioned," recalls the author, who has built a solid reputation in the radius of the books with his two sagas Tobie Lolness and Vango . "Fascinating subject, but too delicate, I was told : when it is white, on the side of those who have exploited the Blacks, you can't decently take ownership of the history of slavery".

A novel richly documented

However, this is not the fault of having worked up his subject in depth. To write this novel, Timothy de Fombelle has spent several years documenting, traveling, consult archives. Having lived in Abidjan, Côte d'ivoire, the writer has been interested since his young age to this terrible period of history.

"My parents we have a day taken discover by car in the string of forts along the west coast of Africa. [...]I was thirteen years old, and these fortresses deserted, and at the time completely abandoned by the collective memory, has given me the consciousness almost physical of all the lives that had passed through there."

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Him then comes the idea of feeding this experience into a book which will speak of slavery, not "from the point of view of those who organised it", but "on the side of the triangle that we never invoke". Of there is born Alma, the first tome of a saga in three volumes, published in France by Gallimard Jeunesse. If the novel was to its release, in mid-June, a nice success with literary criticism, publishing in several English-speaking countries therefore remains a threat.

Only a white man can take the role of a little black girl, a writer to tell the story of the slave trade from the point of view of the slaves, even if this history is obviously not his own, for me, this is the very definition of literature...

Timothée de Fombelle

By Timothy de Fombelle, Walker Books, his English publisher, refuses to leave Alma in the United States and the United Kingdom, for fear of a controversy, the heart of which would be cultural appropriation. "They liked the book, but, in fact, and for the first time, they will probably not...", laments the author, awarded many prizes for his writings.

Inform on slavery

Notion emerged in the 80s, the cultural appropriation refers to a dominant culture, to use elements from another culture, minority or dominated, by taking advantage of the economic benefits which will not be returned to the country concerned. The subject of controversy, the concept has even today of the blurring of boundaries. What is the of a film director or a artist white, which would seek to account in one of his works of a historical episode, sensitive to a culture that is not hers?

In 2018, in Montreal, the room Kanata's French-canadian playwright Robert Lepage, met with a similar controversy. Recounting the history of First Nations from the point of view of the Indians, the show only included, however, no member of this community, and in its scenario or its distribution. Several activists, native americans had accused the playwright to participate in their "invisibilisation" of the company.

read also : what is cultural appropriation?

"Only a white man can take the role of a little black girl, a writer to tell the story of the slave trade from the point of view of the slaves, even if this history is obviously not his own, for me that is the very definition of literature...", she defends her side Timothy de Fombelle. While the literature is still sparse on the subject of slavery, ahead of the author, the well-researched Alma would just the children to have access to this period of history. Before concluding : "this is what this refusal of publication means : it is better that children do not have access to this book, so much the worse if they continue to ignore the reality of slavery."

The editorial team conseilleLe Puts Opera arrested for the distribution of a Aida accused of blackface Neverland , by Timothy de Fombelle : the enigma of the enfanceÉpinglé on Twitter for being too inspired by Basquiat, an artist sees his exposure annuléeSujetsTimothée of FombelleEtats-UnisGallimardLittératureesclavage9 commentairesTHYL L'ESPIEGLEle 25/06/2020 at 10:00 am

Certainly, these anglo-saxon protestants are unbearable !

Fight finalele 25/06/2020 at 09:07 am

Can you quote me 3 african artists back in the Pantheon of writers? Among them, you will find 2 French ministers. QED.

anonymele 25/06/2020 at 07:50 pm

So a novelist who writes about a character's homo must be homo himself ? Or better, he must not write female characters in his books ?
As for the cinema, you don't hear these people complain that in "king Arthur" for Guy Ritchie there are 3 characters black when it comes to the arthurian legends of the celts, or in "Marie Stuart, queen of Scotland," the body guard of the queen is black and the lady of the company is asian...

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