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The Radiance of the King


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About the Author

Camara Laye (1928-1980) was born in Kouroussa, a large village on the river Niger in the French West African colony of Upper Guinea. The Camaras are one of the oldest clans of the Malinke people, and Camara Laye's father, a goldsmith, was a man of considerable local authority. The eldest of seven children, Camara spent his formative years in Koranic and French elementary schools before winning a scholarship to study automobile engineering in Argenteuil, outside Paris. His precocious first book, the autobiographical novel The Dark Child, was published in France in 1953 to great acclaim; it was followed a year later by his masterpiece, The Radiance of the King. In the late 1950s Camara Laye returned to Africa, where he worked in a variety of official capacities for the government of newly independent Guinea, only to be driven into exile because of his political outspokenness. Though his final years were overshadowed by illness and poverty, Camara Laye completed two additional major works: Dramouss, a continuation of The Dark Child, and The Guardian of the Word, a rendering into French of the great Malian epic Soundiata. Toni Morrison, Robert F. Goheen Professor at Princeton, is the author of seven novels. She received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993. (August 2001) James Kirkup (1918-2009) was a prolific English poet, translator and travel writer.


Laye's dreamlike, sinister, erotic setting is worthy of Kafka. Sunday Telegraph Has been described as a journey towards native African wisdom. It is perhaps better read as a cutting reworking of European books about Africa and its 'mysteries', which are only redeemed for civilisation through the European hero. Times Literary Supplement

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