THE SAVAGE STATE by Georges Conchon
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This is the 1964 Prix Goncourt which has had a wildfire success in France. Strictly contemporary, not at all nouveau roman, it's a seismic story of black and white tensions which range all the way from the farouche to the ridiculous aspects of the emergent Africa. Avit, a representative of UNESCO, altogether unmanned by his wife Laure's previous desertion, comes to one of the small new republics where he stubs his toes from the time when he gets off the plane. He also discovers that Laure, who had cuckolded him first with a compatriot, is now living with Doumbe, the current Minister of Public Health. Doumbe, light skinned, well dressed, educated and sophisticated, has gone far beyond most of his people who are still existing in a state of aboriginal simplicity and filth. And Avit, whom he calls an ""anodyne,"" is no more than an ineffectual witness to the humiliating, ludicrous and violent events which take place.... Africa, her ""exotism"" ending where humanity begins, the furioso beat of drums, the buzzing of hatred and tsetse flies, is an uneasy presence behind the immediate situation which is as explosive as plastique. The book has dynamism--it's forthright and forceful, and the publishers will do their best to see that it reaches the readership it has achieved on the continent.

Pub Date: Oct. 4th, 1965
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston