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THE IMPATIENT by Djaïli Amadou Amal
Translated by Emma Ramadan
From birth they are counselled Munyal. Patience. Women trapped in the crushing vice of a violent and dismissive patriarchal religious society. Munyal, is the answer to it all. Used to pacify and spurn. It will get better. Though they all know it won’t. The Impatient is a fierce rallying cry against munyal, but more so against the system of forced marriage and polygamy in Cameroon itself. Told in three closely linked sections, it is the story of Ramla, Hindou and Safira, each trapped in their own hell.
Ramla, young and in love, is married off to Alhadji Issa, a rich business associate of her father’s. On the same day, Hindou is married off to her cousin, an abusive, alcoholic, drug-addled philanderer. And Safira, Alhadji Issa’s first wife, is forced to navigate the humiliation of his taking on another. Each rebels in their own, small way, though to varying tangible effect. Their struggles make for a harrowing, upsetting read but Amal imbues each with a humanity and dignity that transcends the awfulness of their predicaments. Brilliantly woven together, and told with an almost incendiary fervour, The Impatient is the kind of literature that sparks revolutions. Astonishing.
The Impatient by Djaïli Amadou Amal (Tr. Emma Ramadan)
Harper Collins, 2022