You'd think authors would jump at the chance to have their work introduced to a new audience. Not so for Cameroonian novelist Léonora Miano, whose recent work L'interieur de la nuit (or "Inside the Night") was recently picked up by the University of Nebraska Press. The Guardian's Richard Lea reports that Miano is less than happy about the new edition of her book: not only did she dislike the title "The Dark Heart of the Night" and find the new cover "ugly" (although Lea notes that Miano admits that she "knows nothing about the American taste as far as covers are concerned"), but the foreword, written by Terese Svoboda, is "full of lies."
Miano is furious with the misconceptions of Cameroon and the purpose of her novel reinforced by the foreward. M.A. Orthofer of Complete Review published Miano's full letter to the literary blog airing her grievances:
1/ Cameroon does not have the worse human rights record in Africa...2/ Cameroon is not the setting of the novel which was, as I’ve said it many times, inspired by a documentary that I saw on children at war.... 3/ I discovered the so called "Hashish Massacre" in the foreword. I had never heard of that, even if I knew about the armed conflicts we had in the country during the late fifties, when our people were fighting for their independence... 4/ I did not leave Cameroon to France to flee from a violent place. I live in France because I’m both selfish and down to earth....5/ My novel is not a criticism of Negritude or Panafricanism. I’m deeply attached to Negritude whose authors have nurtured and freed my mind.
Complete Review, I could also say a few things on the way you read and understood the book. I won’t. I’m glad you read it and said something about it.
"I found Svoboda's Foreword rather ... odd, too, (beginning with the dubious claim about Cameroon's human rights record) but operated under the assumption that she knew what she was talking about, and that things like Forewords are discussed among author, publisher, and foreword-writer. Apparently, they're not. That said, not all of Svoboda's comments seemed entirely far-fetched -- and the connection to the 'Hashish Massacre', for example, seemed a perceptive one. Apparently, again: not.
So check it out -- and do Miano the favor of looking past Svoboda's Foreword ..... "
(Hat Tip: The Daily Beast's Tunku Varadarajan)