Author: Patrice Nganang; Translated from the French by Amy Baram Reid
A majestic tale of colonialism and transformation, Patrice Nganang's Mount Pleasant tells the astonishing story of the birth of modern Cameroon, a place subject to the whims of the French and the Germans, yet engaged in a cultural revolution.
In 1931, Sara is taken from her family and brought to Mount Pleasant as a gift for Sultan Njoya, a ruler cast into exile by French colonialists. Merely nine years old, she is on the verge of becoming the sultan’s 681st wife. But when she is dragged to Bertha, the long-suffering slave charged with training Njoya’s brides, Sara’s life takes a curious turn. Bertha sees within this little girl her son Nebu, who died tragically years before, and she saves Sara from her fate by disguising her as her son. In Sara’s new life as a boy she bears witness to the world of Sultan Njoya---a magical yet vulnerable community of artists and intellectuals---and learns of the sultan’s final days in the Palace of All Dreams and the sad fate of Nebu, the greatest artist their culture had ever seen.
Seven decades later, a student returns home to Cameroon to learn about the place it once was, and she finds Sara, silent for years, ready to tell her story. But her serpentine tale, entangled by flawed memory and bursts of the imagination, reinvents history anew. The award-winning novelist Patrice Nganang’s Mount Pleasant is a lyrical resurrection of early-twentieth-century Cameroon and an elegy to the people swept up in the forces of colonization.
In The News
"Patrice Nganang’s dazzling novel [stands] in a league of its own, so different from the great majority of novels by African writers in the past fifty or sixty years." —Charles R. Larson, Counterpunch
"Cameroonian writer Nganang delivers a modern epic, tinged with liberal doses of magical realism, of life in his country's colonial era . . . An elegantly drawn and engaging world of a sort unknown to most readers—but one they'll be glad to have visited." —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)