Sila 2022/Boubacar Boris Diop (Senegalese author): “I have never seen so many people at a book fair”

Boubacar Boris Diop, Senegalese author, was present at Sila 2022. (Ph: Joséphine Kouadio)

Present in Abidjan as part of the twelfth edition of Sila 2022, the Senegalese writer Boubacar Boris Diop, winner of the 2021 American Neustadt International Prize for Literature with his work “Murambi, the book of bones”, lent himself to our questions.

Writer from the country invited to this 12th edition of Sila, can we have your impression of this event?
From the beginning I want to point out that this is not the first time I have participated in this event. He was already in Abidjan thanks to the first two editions of Sila. I saw this event being born and like all beginnings, the Sila was a modest event. Today I note with satisfaction that the “baby” has grown. Since the vast majority of visitors are young, this bodes well for a bright future for Ivorian literature and beyond that for African literature. I see many young Ivorians dedicated to the cause of books and that means that after the age of cocoa, it is the age of books for this country. President Senghor said that culture is at the beginning and end of development. And for the writer that I am, that can only do me good.

You who have lived several editions of Sila, what do you think of the current one?

I had never seen so many people at a book fair and God knows I have frequented many in forty years of literary life. Ivory Coast can be proud of Sila 2022.

What does the act of writing represent for the writer that you are?

First let me tell you that culture is very important. Be it cinema, theater, music, etc. Although very important, all these arts have something ephemeral. They have an immediate impact that is very powerful but it wears off quickly. The book is long term. Even today we continue reading authors who published a thousand years ago. We have a special relationship with literature. And it is a joy for someone like me to be part of this great universal movement. The book is so important because it packs a punch of emotion and intelligence when done right. And it is a privileged means of dialogue within a nation and between nations.

His works often deal with countries other than Senegal. Does he consider himself an African writer or a Francophone Senegalese author?

I am simply an African writer from Senegal. My books deal so much with Senegal, Niger, Rwanda. tomorrow because I won’t be able to deal with a specific issue from Côte d’Ivoire. Our countries are similar. We share the same problems, the colonial past, the slave trade.

A look at the new generation of African writers?

I avoid making judgments about other people’s books. I don’t think he’s competent. If it comes to talking about my books, I’ll be more talkative because I know them well enough to talk about them. But when it comes to the works of others, I leave it to the critics.

The good relations between the Ivory Coast and Senegal are also cultural. What do you think ?

Relations between Ivorian and Senegalese in all areas are joke relations. That is to say, there is a great affection and a certain emulation. Each one tries to position himself in relation to the other to give the best of himself. See for yourself when here in Abidjan Senegal is the guest of honor at this magnificent event, in Senegal the Dakar Biennale opens on May 19 and the Ivory Coast is the guest country. It is no coincidence that there is always a lot of intelligence and cordiality in the relations between the two countries.

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