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3.0 

A Long Way from Douala

By Max Lobe & Ros Schwartz
A Long Way from Douala by Max Lobe & Ros Schwartz digital book - Fable

Publisher Description

Bursting with local color, this hilarious, heartwarming coming-of-age tale follows two friends on a raucous journey across Cameroon as they grapple with grief, sexuality, and dreams of leaving. 

After their father’s sudden death, Jean’s older brother Roger decides he’s had enough of their abusive mother and their city. He runs away to try his luck crossing illegally into Europe, in the hope of becoming a soccer star abroad. When no news of him reaches the family, and the police declare that finding some feckless brat isn’t worth their time, Jean feels he has to act. Aiming to catch up with Roger before he gets to the Nigerian border, Jean enlists the help of the older Simon, a close neighborhood friend, and the two set out on the road. 

Through a series of joyful, sparky vignettes, Cameroon life is revealed in all its ups and downs. Max Lobe insightfully touches on grave, complex issues, such as the violence Boko Haram has inflicted on the region, yet still recounts events with remarkable humor and levity.

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1 Review

3.0
“Set in Cameroon, A Long Way From Douala follows Choupi cross the country by bus with his friend Simon in search of Choupi's brother who has disappeared from their small town, searching for football fame in Europe in the hopes of playing for big teams like Real Madrid or FC Barcelona. This book completely transports the reader into the heart of Cameroon. A short book (184 pages), I devoured this road-trip through desert, strip clubs, and Boko Haram checks, with the personality of Cameroonians ever-present. There were some words I was not at all happy to or expecting to read in this book (TW: tr**ny) but I think that the cultural context and the translation should be taken into account when reading them. At some points, although the story was busy, I felt as if nothing was happening, but I think this could be done on purpose to give a true feel of what it is like to travel across vast distances. All in all, this short read gives a bright insight into life in Cameroon, and it had me wishing there were at least 100 more pages.”

About Max Lobe

Max Lobe was born in Douala, Cameroon. At eighteen he moved to Switzerland, where he earned a BA in communication and journalism, and a master’s in public policy and administration. In 2017 his novel Confidences won the Ahmadou Kourouma Prize. A Long Way from Douala was published in 2018 to rave reviews in Switzerland and France. He is the founder of the Genev’Africa program, which promotes literary and cultural exchange between French-speaking Switzerland and Africa. He lives in Geneva.

Ros Schwartz is an award-winning translator of more than a hundred works of fiction and nonfiction, including the 2010 edition of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince. Among the francophone authors she has translated are Tahar Ben Jelloun, Aziz Chouaki, Fatou Diome, Dominique Eddé, and Ousmane Sembène. In 2009 she was made a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, and in 2017 she was awarded the John Sykes Memorial Prize for Excellence by the UK-based Institute of Translation and Interpreting.

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