God's Bits of Wood
By Ousman Sembène, trans Francis Price
Paperback: 248 pages
Publisher: Pearson; Revised edition (August 11, 2008)
In 1947 the workers on the Dakar-Niger Railway came out on strike. Throughout this novel, written from the workers' perspective, the community social tensions emerge, and increase as the strike lengthens. The author's other novels include Xala and Black Docker.
About the Author
Writer and film director Ousmane Sembène was born in Senegal and worked as a fisherman before attending l'Ecole de Ceramique at Marsassoum. He worked as a plumber, a bricklayer, and an apprentice mechanic in Dakar, and eventually became a docker and trade union leader in Marseilles. Out of this experience he wrote Le Docker Noir (1956). He also published Oh Pays, mon Beau Peuple (1957), L'Harmattan (1964) and the collection of stories, Voltaique (1962), which was translated as God's Bits of Wood and appears in the African Writers Series (AWS). He has made several films including one of Le Mandat (translated as “The Money Order” with White Genesis AWS). His film of Xala met with a great success in the New York film festival. More recently, Moolaadé ("Magical Protection") is a 2004 film.
Amazon Customer Review
5.0 out of 5 stars Warning! This well-crafter book will grow your perspective of life in Colonial Africa! God's Bits of Wood is a fantastic literary work that provides the reader detailed insight into French Colonial Africa. We are introduced to many diverse characters struggling with where they belong and how they fit into the modern world as a railroad strike requires them to step out of their comfort zones to survive. We have the solid and strong leadership of the mysterious Bakayoko. The book opens with a young Ad'jibi'ji who is starting to develop her own ideas of the world. Ramatoulaye and Mame Sofi combine the new world with the old as they fend for their families and support the men on strike. These are just a hand full of people from the many that you will meet as the story unfolds. Ousmane Sembène writes from every angle and perspective of the times so the reader can grasp many of the concepts each generation encountered throughout the strike and after it. Each personality grows throughout the story in a unique way. Sembène does an amazing job blending what had become traditional gender roles under colonial rule with the older, pre-colonial matrilineal traditions of Sudan and Senegal's past. The characters are all very relatable. Many will cause you to stop and really think about their experiences and lessons that we can all learn from to make the world a better place. —Cat Novelliere, Amazon Customer Reviews