In the Company of Men: A Novel on Zoom | Mechanics' Institute

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In the Company of Men: A Novel on Zoom
Author Véronique Tadjo in conversation with writer Faith Adiele, Co-sponsored by Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD)

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Co-sponsored by Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD)

“Resonant, unflinching…As personal and humane as it is biblically grand…a timely testament to the destructive powers of pandemics.” —Publishers Weekly

“Tender and compassionate, this vivid, often heart-wrenching account of the courage of Ebola frontline workers caring for those ravaged by the disease is an important reminder of the human and emotional cost of one of the worst epidemics of our age.” —Elnathan John, author of Born on a Tuesday

“[A] powerful, poetic ode to life in a country of ancient customs, ravaged by death…A magnificent and essential text.” —Le Figaro Madame

Drawing on real accounts of the Ebola outbreak that devastated West Africa, this poignant, timely fable reflects on both the strength and the fragility of life and humanity’s place in the world.

Two boys venture from their village to hunt in a nearby forest, where they shoot down bats with glee, and cook their prey over an open fire. Within a month, they are dead, bodies ravaged by an insidious disease that neither the local healer’s potions nor the medical team’s treatments could cure. Compounding the family’s grief, experts warn against touching the sick. But this caution comes too late: the virus spreads rapidly, and the boys’ father is barely able to send his eldest daughter away for a chance at survival.

In a series of moving snapshots, Véronique Tadjo illustrates the terrible extent of the Ebola epidemic, through the eyes of those affected in myriad ways: the doctor who tirelessly treats patients day after day in a sweltering tent, protected from the virus only by a plastic suit; the student who volunteers to work as a gravedigger while universities are closed, helping the teams overwhelmed by the sheer number of bodies; the grandmother who agrees to take in an orphaned boy cast out of his village for fear of infection. And watching over them all is the ancient and wise Baobab tree, mourning the dire state of the earth yet providing a sense of hope for the future.

Acutely relevant to our times in light of the coronavirus pandemic, In the Company of Men explores critical questions about how we cope with a global crisis and how we can combat fear and prejudice.

Véronique Tadjo is a writer, poet, novelist, and artist from Côte d’Ivoire. She earned a doctorate in Black American Literature and Civilization from the Sorbonne, Paris IV, and went to the United States as a Fulbright scholar at Howard University in Washington, DC. She headed the French Department of the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg up until 2015. Her books have been translated into several languages, from The Blind Kingdom (1991) to The Shadow of Imana: Travels in the Heart of Rwanda (2001) and Queen Pokou: Concerto for a Sacrifice (2005), which was awarded the Grand Prix de Littérature d’Afrique noire 2005.

 

Faith Adiele is Associate Professor at California College of the Arts, where she teaches contemporary African literature and creative writing, and Host and Co-founder of African Book Club at Museum of the African Diaspora. She is author of two memoirs, The Nigerian Nordic Girl’s Guide to Lady Problems and Meeting Faith: An Inward Odyssey, which won a PEN Award, and co-editor of Coming of Age Around the World: A Multicultural Anthology. The PBS documentary My Journey Home chronicles her search to find her father and siblings in Nigeria, while her essays on race, gender, culture and travel appear in the Calm meditation app, O: The Oprah Magazine, Essence, Transition, Brittle Paper, and HuffPost, among others. She lives in Oakland and at http://adiele.com.

 

 

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