Tété-Michel Kpomassie

Michel the Giant

Michel the Giant

An African in Greenland


'The play of moonlight on the icebergs was indescribably strange, and its magnificent refracted shimmers were brighter than day. One night, fooled by its brilliance, I got up at three in the morning.'

Scorching heat, rich, fertile soil and treacherous snakes marked the landscape in which Kpomassie grew up in 1950s Togo, West Africa. When, as a teenager, he discovered a book on Greenland, this distant land of snow and ice became an instant obsession and he embarked on the adventure of a lifetime.

In this work of rich, immersive travel writing Kpomassie invites the reader to join him on his audacious journey as he makes his way from the Equator to the bitter cold of the Arctic and settles into life with the Inuit peoples, adapting to their foods and customs. Part memoir, part anthropological observation, this warm, captivating narrative teems with nuanced observations on community, belonging and colonization.

Originally published in 1981, this critically acclaimed work has been translated into nine languages and is a rare example of travel writing from a West African perspective that highlights unexpected connection between cultures despite their contrasting landscapes.

This translation by James Kirkup has previously been published with the title An African in Greenland