Guest 2008.

Kossi Efoui [ Togo, France ]

Kossi Efoui was born in Anfoin where he grew up in a family of artists, in 1962. During the course of his philosophy studies at the Université de Lomé, he joined the student protest movement against ’s president Eyadéma. He later left his country, immigrating to after he had graduated from the Université de Bénin, and writing for the weekly »Jeune Afrique«, among other magazines. At the time he had already made a name for himself as an author, having received awards for his first play, »Le Carrefour« (1990; t: The crossing), as well as for two short stories.

Most of his twelve plays have been performed at festivals throughout Europe and Africa. In the tradition of Samuel Beckett and Sony Labou Tansi, Efoui evokes fantastic worlds through a multi-dimensional fabric of words, thoughts and meanings, in which the spectators’ senses are deluged with images and hints at interpretation. The author flamboyantly and humorously plays with African stereotypes, and sets himself in contrast to the Pan-African Négritude movement by developing a variety of conceptualisations of African identity. »The problem is that the overstatement of Africanity has carried on right up until now. We need to distance ourselves from it by multiplying the masks and proposing different representations.«

Efoui’s début novel, »La Polka« (1998), takes place in a derelict, nameless capital, where, as the inhabitants look forward to the upcoming Mardi Gras, calamity suddenly strikes. As the city descends into a war zone-like chaos, the protagonist frantically searches (unsuccessfully) for his girlfriend while people are fleeing and dying around him.

His succeeding novel, »La Fabrique de cérémonies« (2001; t: The ceremony factory), is set in the author’s home country. In the novel an African journalist, who studied in Russia and later struggled to live a day-to-day existence in Paris, returns to his native country on assignment from a magazine. In light of the military dictatorship, he feels incapable of delivering the clichéd image of Africa that the magazine expects from him.

Most recently, Efoui published the novel, »Solo d’un revenant« (2008; t: Solo of a revenant). Ranking among his accolades are the Grand Prix Tchicaya U Tam'si, the Prix du Nouveau Talent Radio de la SACD, the Prix de la nouvelle Africa n° 1, the Prix de la Délégation Générale de la Langue Française and the Grand Prix littéraire de l'Afrique Noire. He has received grants from the Création du Centre National du Livre, the Maison du Théâtre et de la Danse in Epinay-sur-Seine and the Centre National des Écritures et du Spectacle. He lives in Nantes.

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