Bound to Violence

Bound to Violence


‘A great novel ... bone-chilling black satire … it deserves many readings’ New York Times

A mock epic of explosive power, Bound to Violence races through the history of the imaginary African kingdom of Nakem, from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century. Recounting the bloody adventures of successive inglorious dynasties, the arrival of white exploiters and the fates of ordinary, endlessly persecuted citizens – most notably the tragicomic, Paris-educated hero Raymond-Spartacus Kassoumi – this iconoclastic, outrageous 1968 novel takes a wry, sideways look at empire and nationalism, and at the sex, violence and power that run through human relationships.

‘A startling energy of language’ John Updike, New Yorker

Translated by Ralph Manheim
With an Introduction by Chérif Keïta


  • Ouologuem delineates white savagery as precisely as he shows intrablack conflicts... His novel is something like a skyscraper. It has multi-levels, a variety of actions, characters, and scenes... A bone-chilling black satire
    New York Times

About the author

Yambo Ouologuem

Yambo Ouologuem was a Malian writer born into an aristocratic family. His poetry has been anthologized in Poems of Black Africa, edited by Wole Soyinka, and The Penguin Book of Modern African Poetry, edited by Gerald Moore and Ulli Beier. Met with critical acclaim in France, Ouologuem won the Renaudot Prize for his debut novel, Bound to Violence. He died in 2017.
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