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Albert Russo

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Books
· The Quatuor of African Novels in a single ebook

· Zapinette Baguette and Tagliatelle

· Eur-African Exiles

· Leodine of the Belgian Congo

· Adopted by an American Homosexual in the Belgian Congo

· Princes and Gods

· I-sraeli Syndrome

· Rome, my sibling, my empress

· Ode to Mamica mia, Mother beloved

· Mother beloved, Mamica mia


Short Stories
· The age of the pearl

· Lebensborn

· New York Bonus

· The spell of Mayaland

· Fast food Lisette

· Souk Secrets

· Spirit of Tar


Articles
· The writer as a chameleon - bilingualism in three continents

· Crisis and creativity in the new literatures in English


Poetry
· To my fellow poets

· Pixel power, from his book, CWS2

· Lost identity

· Emotionally trashed

· Remembrance of a corrected past

· The little things that add up in life

· Cormorant of Yangshuo, from his book Futureyes

· Call of the Falasha, from his book Futureyes

· Now, then and forever, from his book CWS2

· Choo-choo boy, from his book CWS2 (The Crowded World of Solitude, volume2)

         More poetry...
News
· Life Achievement Award for Literature

· fiction, poetry and photo books by Albert Russo

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L'ancêtre noire / The Black Ancestor ( see: The Benevolent American ...)
by Albert Russo   


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Books by Albert Russo     View all 67
· The Quatuor of African Novels in a single ebook
· Adopted by an American Homosexual in the Belgian Congo
· Princes and Gods


Category: 

Cultures

Publisher:  Hors Commerce, Paris + Xlibris, USA Type:  Fiction

Copyright:  2003 in French; 2005 in English


Barnes & Noble.com
Fnac
Xlibris
L'ancêtre noire + The Benevolent American in the Heart of Darkness

One day, Leodine's uncle, eavesdropping on his parents, will reveal to the young girl that her deceased American father had a black great-grandmother. This news shatters Leodine and she becomes obsessed with the fact that she is of mixed blood in the Belgian Congo.



Leodine, the daughter of Astrid, a beautiful Fleming, and of Gregory McNeil, a young and buoyant G.I. whom the latter had met in Northern France during WWII, grows up in the Belgian Congo with her mother, after her father died in a plane crash, flying from America to rejoin his family. After a couple of years, Astrid falls in love with Piet Van den Berg, and the latter will move in with them. Leodine is surrounded by the love of her mother and of Piet, whom she now considers as her stepfather, as well as by the affection of her maternal grandparents and of her uncle Jeff, still an adolescent.
One day her uncle, eavesdropping on his parents, will reveal to her that her deceased American father had a black great-grandmother. This news shatters the young girl and she becomes obsessed with the fact that she is of mixed blood, although she is so fair that no one could ever surmise it. But from this moment on her existence becomes a calvary. This will determine her whole future: she has decided never to marry, nor to bear a child who might be darker than herself.

Albert Russo.“L’ancêtre noire”. Paris
Editions Hors Commerce (26, rue de Picpus - 75012 Paris)
2003. 216 pages - € 18 - ISBN 2-910599-89-2
(distributed by: CDE/Sodis - groupe Gallimard)

Africa or the quest for identity: the predicament of a white girl in the Belgian Congo and the terrible legacy of her American father.

Leodine, the daughter of Astrid, a beautiful Fleming, and of Gregory McNeil, a young and buoyant G.I. whom the latter had met in Northern France during WWII, grows up in the Belgian Congo with her mother, after her father died in a plane crash, flying from America to rejoin his family. After a couple of years, Astrid falls in love with Piet Van den Berg, and the latter will move in with them. Leodine is surrounded by the love of her mother and of Piet, whom she now considers as her stepfather, as well as by the affection of her maternal grandparents and of her uncle Jeff, still an adolescent.
One day her uncle, eavesdropping on his parents, will reveal to her that her deceased American father had a black great-grandmother. This news shatters the young girl and she becomes obsessed with the fact that she is of mixed blood, although she is so fair that no one could ever surmise it. But from this moment on her existence becomes a calvary. This will determine her whole future: she has decided never to marry, nor to bear a child who might be darker than herself.
The only friend she has at school is a pretty mulatto girl, half Portuguese, half-Angolan, named Yolande, and she finally decides to divulge to her the terrible secret. Later on, Yolande introduces her to her cousin Mario-Tende, a refined and intelligent student who lives at the Cité Indigène (the segregated black township). One afternoon, Leodine’s dear uncle Jeff is run over by a truck and she is so devastated, she feels she’s become an orphan for the second time.
Mario-Tende offers to tutor Leodine in the subjects she finds most difficult. A friendship evolves between the two, inasmuch as her uncle has left a huge void in her heart and that she can’t but compare him to Mario-Tende, for the two boys were about the same age and they were both bright and diligent students, albeit with a major difference, the one of course, being white and the other black. Mario-Tende has very strong and genuine feelings for the young girl, and one day, very naturally, very gently, the young man makes love to her. Panic-stricken, Leodine opens up to her mother, believing she is pregnant. But she is lucky and gets her periods.
After this grave occurrence, Astrid and her family decide to send the young girl away from the Congo. And it is thus that Leodine will go and study in far away Minnesota, where her paternal grandparents live. After college, she joins an Adventist convent, specialized in missionary work. She learns that Mario-Tende was killed in Angola, fighting for the independence of his country. Three decades after she left the Congo she will return to the land of her birth and witness the horror wrought following the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Keeping to her promise, she never marries nor bears any child. But she will adopt a little Mozambican boy and name him ... Mario-Tende.


Professional Reviews
in World Literature Today
Albert Russo.“L’ancêtre noire”. Paris - Editions Hors Commerce (26, rue de Picpus - 75012 Paris). 2003. 216 pages - ISBN 2-910599-89-2
€ 18 (distributed by: CDE/Sodis - groupe Gallimard)

Africa or the quest for identity: the predicament of a white girl in the Belgian Congo and the terrible legacy of her American father. by Eric Tessier
published in World Literature Today.

For who wants to understand Albert Russo, Africa is the key to his work and to his being. He is African by birth and he was raised in both Belgian-ruled Africa and Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), speaking French, English, as well as Kiswahili.
Let’s first start with the story of the novel. Leodine, the daughter of Astrid, a beautiful Fleming, and of Gregory McNeil - a young and buoyant G.I. whom the latter had met in Northern France during WWII -, grows up in the Belgian Congo with her mother, after her father died in a plane crash, flying from America to rejoin his family. After a couple of years, Astrid falls in love with Piet Van den Berg, and the latter will move in with them. Leodine is surrounded by the love of her mother and of Piet, whom she now considers as her surrogate father, as well as by the affection of her maternal grandparents and of her uncle Jeff, who is still an adolescent.
One day her uncle, eavesdropping on his parents, will reveal to her that her deceased American father had a black great-grandmother. This news shatters the young girl and she becomes obsessed with the fact that she is of mixed blood, although she is so fair that no one could ever surmise it. But from this moment on her existence becomes a calvary. This will determine her whole future: she has decided never to marry, nor to bear a child who might be darker than herself.
The only friend she has at school is a pretty mulatto girl, half-Portuguese, half-Angolan, named Yolande, and she finally decides to divulge to her the terrible secret. Later on, Yolande introduces her to her cousin Mario-Tende, a refined and intelligent student who lives at the Cité Indigène (Elisabethville’s segregated black township). One afternoon, Leodine’s uncle Jeff is run over by a truck; she is so devastated, she feels she’s become an orphan for the second time.
Mario-Tende offers to tutor Leodine in the subjects she finds most difficult, especially math and science. A friendship evolves between the two, inasmuch as her uncle has left a huge void in her heart and that she can’t but compare him to Mario-Tende, for the two boys, who didn’t know each other, were about the same age and were both bright and diligent students, albeit with a major difference, the one of course, being white and the other black. Mario-Tende has deep and genuine feelings for the young girl, and one day, very naturally, very gently, the young man makes love to her. Panic-stricken, Leodine opens up to her mother, believing she is pregnant. But she is lucky and gets her periods.
After this grave occurrence, Astrid and her family decide to send the young girl away from the Congo. And it is thus that Leodine will go and study in far away Minnesota, where her paternal grandparents live. After college, she joins an Adventist convent, specialized in missionary work. She learns that Mario-Tende was killed in Angola, fighting for the independence of his country. Three decades after she left the Congo she will return to the continent of her birth and witness the horror wrought in that section of the Great Rift valley, following the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Keeping to her promise, she never marries nor bears any child. But she will adopt a little Mozambican boy and name him ... Mario-Tende.
One of Albert Russo’s recurring themes is the quest for one own’s identity, from wherever the protagonists of his novels or of his shorter fiction hail. It may be Africa, as in the present case, Europe or America, and the main character could be white, black, or of mixed blood. Born of an Italian father and of a British mother, the author, who fluently speaks five languages, writes in both French and English, which he considers as his two ‘mother-tongues’. Let’s face it, Albert Russo could very well be the hero of one of his novels. The issue here is quite straightfoward: in a binary world, where A must be white and B black, how does one measure the shades of life’s infinitely variegated spectrum? How does one define oneself, when one is both white and black? The purpose here is not to play on words, although we do live in a world where definitions and ideas are increasingly slipping into the dangerous arena of dogmatism. You need not look further than the fondamentalist propagators of radical Islam, and to a lesser degree, of other religions. In contemporary France, it is fashionable for the young folk, especially those living in the suburbs, to use the English word ‘black’, instead of ‘noir’, when designating a person of African descent, ‘rebeu’ in verlan (slang), for ‘arabe’, or ‘feuj’, for ‘juif’. I detect in such affectations a visceral fear of reality, a cowardly distancing between the self and one’s environment, a way of being politically correct in a fashionable manner, with the false pretense of establishing a new standard to which the new generation could identify itself. Calling someone ‘visually-impaired’ will not render him his sight, or a paraplegic ‘a person with reduced mobility’, his ability to walk. It would be much more practical and humane to fit our urban societies with the appropriate facilities, but here we are getting down to the nitty-gritty, and such concrete and urgent decisions scare many a politician. They bask in sparring matches, for it is so much easier to give advice or to counter one’s adversaries.
Returning to our main subject, how does one tackle the predicament of being at once black and white, in other words, of being a mulatto? To say that the mixing of races produces handsome children won’t answer the question. Man is instinctively recalcitrant to anyone who is different from himself. There is a tendency in our multi-ethnic democratic societies of regarding the ‘otherness’ of our fellow citizens, in a positive light, albeit with a sense of guilt. Yet, no matter how well-intentioned we are - and some of us genuinely believe in the cross-pollination of cultures - the mulatto continues to be considered a threat, for he is neither totally of one race, nor of another, and even though he didn’t choose his status, he might also be considered something of a traitor. The boundaries are so easily crossed when things do not turn out to our advantage. And immediately the old prejudices reappear to the surface, with snakish remarks or blatant accusations, such as “that’s typical ...” or “what can you expect from them?”
I recall a discussion with Albert Russo concerning his novel “L’amant de mon père - journal romain”. “How would you define your protagonist?” asked a literary critic. He expected the author to stress the main character’s homosexuality and was somewhat disappointed by Russo’s reply: “Like anybody else, Eric has sexual urges, but that is not what his life is all about.” Even intellectuals who pretend to be open-minded often feel more comfortable when they are able to categorize. And of course, it is Albert Russo who is right, man cannot be reduced to his sexual inclinations.
There is another anecdote which I would like to mention that points to Russo’s status as both a polyglot and a bilingual author. He once approached a well-known Argentinian writer who had settled in France several decades ago and thought it natural to address him in Spanish. “Why on earth are you speaking Spanish to me?” the man retorted. “So, you write in French and in English? You must be schizophrenic, my friend!” he went on. “One has to choose, for one can write well in only one idiom. In my case, I have relinquished my native tongue for the language of Molière.”
Whereas some intellectual pedants spend their lives subtracting, Albert Russo adds on, enriched by his experiences. Unlike the little falcons that put on their hoods to please their masters, and flaunt their medals, at every possible occasion, Albert Russo has learned that freedom lies with the sparrow, unencumbered by society’s strictures.
In “L’ancêtre noire”, the reader, acquainted with the author’s previous African novels - “Le Cap des Illusions”, and in both French and English: “Mixed Blood” and “Eclipse over Lake Tanganyika” - will find many poignant and delightful passages, especially in the journeys across the magnificent Kivu province, which today, along with bordering Rwanda and Burundi, has been scarred by fratricidal wars.
That Leodine, in this particular novel, happens to be an adolescent, as was Leopold in “Mixed Blood”, isn’t fortuitous, for it is at that vulnerable period of one’s life that one’s intimate and social traits take form and that the child’s personality gets molded.
To conclude, I shall sum up what Albert Russo’s Africa represents in my eyes: humankind’s infinite diversity and, amid such richness, a quest for the deep self, with, concomittantly, the search for fraternal love. That is his message. Heed it!




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Books by
Albert Russo



The Quatuor of African Novels in a single ebook

Barnes & Noble, more..




Adopted by an American Homosexual in the Belgian Congo

Buy Options
Amazon, Barnes & Noble, more..




Princes and Gods

Buy Options
Amazon, Barnes & Noble, more..




Leodine of the Belgian Congo

Buy Options
Amazon, Barnes & Noble, more..




Eur-African Exiles

Buy Options
Amazon, Barnes & Noble, more..




Zapinette Baguette and Tagliatelle

Buy Options
Amazon, Barnes & Noble, more..




I-sraeli Syndrome

Barnes & Noble, more..



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