Blake's adventurous essays—her Letters from Togo—are based on the letters she wrote to her friends from Lomé, the West African capital where she spent a Fulbright year teaching American literature from 1983 to 1984. As Blake begins the process of making sense out of a vibrant, seeming anarchy, we are pulled along with her into the heart of Togo—a tiny dry strip of a country no one can even find on a map.
With her delightful prose and insight for detail Blake introduces us to Mahouna, her housekeeper, who runs a cold drink business from his refrigerator in a country where electricity is unreliable; to American Lee Ann and her Togolese family, who works at the American school to earn the fees for a private education for her children; and to the suave René, wearing silk shirts and a most seductive smile, who teeters on the edge of the Togolese and expatriate worlds.
Since Lomé is both an overgrown village and a cosmopolitan city, Blake's exhilarating, often humorous experiences range from buying a car to attending a traditional tom-tom funeral, from visiting people who hunt with bows and arrows to enduring faculty meetings, from negotiating the politics of buying produce to lecturing on Afro-American literature at the English Club. Together, her enlivening letters trace the pattern of adjusting to a foreign environment and probe the connections between Africa and this curious, energetic American. Not "out of Africa" but within it, they take advantage of time and perspective to penetrate the universal experience of being a stranger in a strange land.
Singular Lives: The Iowa Series in North American Autobiography
University of Iowa Press
Biography, Description and travel, Travel, Social life and customs, Correspondence, Literature teachers
Copyright © 1991 by the University of Iowa. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Blake, Susan Louise. Letters from Togo. University of Iowa Press, 1991.