“The condition of a native is a nervous condition…” Jean-Paul Sartre wrote in his preface to Fritz Fanon’s “Wretched of the Earth”. And I always think about it in my quest for various narratives of the post-colonial world: it’s both important and insightful, yet, at the same time, oversimplifying the issue, because, of course, the Western audience wants to see the African psyche through the lens of the occidental concept of mental health. “The Children”, despite being created by a white Frenchman, is a great example of a chronicle of nervous conditions, as inhabited by the children. I find it hard to judge whether it simplifies, or not, veering towards the latter, but it did remind me of the work of Alain Mabanckou, the great Congolese writer, and struck me as a pretty sincere, multi-faceted view of growing up in unstable conditions.
The Children by Jean-Philippe Stassen
Published by Depuis in 2018
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