The Little Peul

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2010-04-30

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Born in Dakar but of Guinean origin, Mariama Barry claims bothSenegal and Guinea as "her" countries. This dual background lends her significantand widespread visibility not only because she is the first woman writer of Guineato have gained extensive international recognition but also because Senegalese womennovelists were the first African women writing in French to win internationalacclaim.Barry's first autobiographical novel, LaPetite Peule (2000) is the story of an early Peul childhood, spentin Senegal. The Peul are a primarily nomadic people of western Africa. The bookopens with a description of the violence and trauma of a young girl's excision atage six. This is but the first of many trials. After a younger brother is almostkilled by a truck, the family moves to La Medina, a Dakar neighborhood where ratsgnaw on children's toes at night and where children must struggle with adults inorder to fetch water or use the communal toilet. Attending school is the one highpoint in "the little Peul's" life, but even there she must standup to older bullies. During an unexpected hospitalization, the nuns recognize Peul'stalent and suggest that she go to appear on a radio program where children recitepoetry. Peul takes the suggestion and goes to the radio station without Mama'spermission. Neighborhood fame saves her from maternal retribution. Family life iscompletely upset when Mama takes the youngest child and walks out abruptly, leavingleaving Peul to clean, cook, and care for her younger brothers. Peul's studiessuffer. Unable to cope with five children and failing business as a neighborhoodvendor, Papa withdraws Peul from school and takes the family to his mother's villagein mountainous northern Guinea. Peul reacts against the idea that women shouldaccept suffering and subjugation to men. At a tender age, she experiences greatindignation that children have no rights and that parents lie to or desert their ownchildren. She is determined to direct her own life and assert her right to doso.CARAF Books: Caribbean and African Literature Translated fromthe French

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