ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes


Home   ChickenBones Store (Books, DVDs, Music, and more)  


When Manthia Diawara was in high school, he would pray to Allah to let him

get out of Mali, study in Europe, and live happily at least until age fifty.

To ask for anything more, he thought, would be tempting fate.



Books by Manthia Diawara


Black-American Cinema / African Cinema  / We Won't Budge


*   *   *   *   *

We Won't Budge

An African Exile in the World

By Manthia Diawara




France, which once scolded the United States about its racism, encourages police actions against African immigrants that remind one of the policies of a typical 1960s Mississippi sheriff. this is one of the many issues covered by professor Manthia Diawara's superb book We Won't Budge. Part autobiography, part social commentary, it's a powerful and insightful look at the situation of border intellectuals at the beginning of the 21st century. While fortunes are being made from "tough love" books aimed at blacks, exclusively, this "tough love" book is aimed at European civilization, which is beginning to reap what it sowed.Ishmael Reed, author of Another Day at the Front


In measured, lyrical prose, We Won't Budge takes us under the skin of some African immigrant's anxious, conflicted and romantic feelings towards Black American culture, French egalité and displaced African fellowship. . . . One of the wisest, wryest takes on the trials of that star-crossed, nomadic figure, the Black diasporic intellectual--a figure ripe for uprooting everywhere but in the country of the mindGreg Tate, author of Flyboy in the Buttermilk, and editor of Everything but the Burden: What White People Are Thinking from Black Culture


Manthia Diawara has a voice which speaks straight to the soul. It carries our dreams, hopes, and frustrations as well as our hearts, torn between our past and future.Maryse Condé, author of Segu and I Tituba, Black Witch of Salem


A moving memoir with subtle analytic bite, We Won't Budge is one of the most nuanced accounts of migration and the complexities of globalization available. It is also a thoroughly engaging story.Craig Calhoun, President of the Social Science Research Council


When Manthia Diawara was in high school, he would pray to Allah to let him get out of Mali, study in Europe, and live happily at least until age fifty. To ask for anything more, he thought, would be tempting fate. Thirty years after leaving his native West Africa, he has a home and career in new York City, and more than a few acclaimed books and films to his name. Still, he cannot shake the memories of his country of birth--or of his first place of self-imposed exile: the streets of 1970s Paris.

In this searing and bittersweet memoir, Diawara revisits his early years as an African emigrant in love with Swedish girls and American rock and roll. Taking us from the nightclubs of his hometown Bamako, to the cafes of Boulevard Montparnasse, to the black neighborhoods of 1970s Washington D.C., Diawara brings to life the generation of Africans who were drawn to the promise of western equality and prosperity in the heady days of the international student movement.

Now able to look at the assimilation process from a more nuanced perspective, he confronts the prejudices of those who assume he is simply another unwanted illegal immigrant, and yet watches his fifteen-year-old son walk around Paris free of the suspicion that can haunt young black men in New York. But he is also brought back to his life-altering decision to "move on" to the United States, as well as the broken dreams of those who returned to Africa, driven either by homsesickness or the immigration department.

Taking his title We Won't BudgeNous Pas Bougerfrom the Malian song that has become an international African protest anthem against human rights violations, Diawara puts a human face on the problems of immigration and racism in a globalized world. By turns humorous and a harrowing--whether he is recounting less than useful friendly advice on how to handle racist Parisian cops, or entreaties from his extended family in Mali to help them get to the U.S.--he shatters many cherished notions about what it means to live strangled by the traditions of the place that is left behind.At the same time, the stories of friends like Johnny, who was dragged by deportation authorities from a restaurant kitchen in Washington, D.C., or the cousins in Paris who rely on their shaman for protection from the French police, expose the harsh reality that the world's great colonizing powers are fast closing their doors to the Africans and Arabs who leave home, as Diawara once did, in search of a dream of opportunity that is slipping away. We leave this haunting story exhilarated by Diawara's personal triumph and humbled by his humanity. Publisher, Book Cover

posted 4 November 2007

*   *   *   *   *

Manthia Diawara is presently chair of the Africana Studies Department at New York University. A native of Mali, Professor Diawara received his education in France and later traveled to the United States for his university studies.  Diawara received his Ph.D. from Indiana University in 1985. His dissertation, on the politics and aesthetics of African cinema, formed the basis for African Cinema, published in 1985 by Indiana University Press.

Since then, Dr. Diawara has edited the volume Black-American Cinema, published by Routledge in 1993 in addition to publishing widely in journals. He has taught at the University of California at Santa Barbara and the University of Pennsylvania. 

Diawara is  engaged in Black cultural studies, a project begun in Britain in the early '80s by figures such as Stuart Hall and Paul Gilroy. He is interested,  however, in the material conditions of Black people in the Americas in order not to replicate the British formulations.

His essay "Black Studies / Cultural Studies: Performative Acts" in AfterImage explains his view of black cultural studies and the direction they should take. His bibliography should be checked for other essays on the topic. Diawara's views on "Blackness" place him among the "strategic essentialists," which include such thinkers as Greg Tate, Arthur Jafa, Tricia Rose, Paul Gilroy, Houston Baker, and others -- all of whom privilege Blackness "without recourse to narrower, pathological, and biological notions of cultural purity.

Diawara has published widely on the topic of film and literature of the Black Diaspora.  Professor Diawara also collaborated with Ngûgî wa Thiong’o in making the documentary Sembene Ousmane: The Making of the African Cinema, and directed the German-produced documentary Rouch in Reverse. He is also the author of Black-American Cinema: Aesthetics and Spectatorship (1993), African Cinema: Politics and Culture (1992), and In Search of Africa (1998).

*   *   *   *   *


African Film: New Forms of Aesthetics and Politics

By Manthia Diawara

In this book Manthia Diawara, a renowned scholar on Black cinema, literature, and art brings readers up to date on the exciting changes taking place behind and in front of African cameras. Contributions by filmmakers, scholars, and producers as well as profiles of thirty important African directors and their films, provide valuable insight into recent developments. The volume comes with a DVD containing several interviews with filmmakers conducted by the author. Scholars, students, and anyone interested in cinematic and African cultural studies will find much to discover and celebrate in this authoritative, fascinating look at new trends in African filmmaking.

*   *   *   *   *


In Search of Africa

By Manthia Diawara

Manthia Diawara is able to see Guinea with a nostalgia that doesn't turn a blind eye to the nation's faults, pointing out what needs to be done without falling prey to "Afro-pessimism." In one heartfelt passage, recalling his upbringing in revolutionary Guinea, Diawara writes: "My life began when the new nations were born, in the late 1950s. We had been full of hope then, determined to change Africa, to catch up quickly with the modern world, to show that black people could use their culture and civilization, as other people did, to lead them into modernity." But, as Diawara relates throughout the book, that didn't happen. He painfully recounts how he and his family were forced to leave Guinea and how the country sank into a Marxist-oriented dictatorial nightmare. While not overlooking the horrible historical impact of the slave trade and European colonialism, Diawara also blames internal corruption and dangerous African ethnic customs, like female genital mutilation, for his country's underdevelopment. Ultimately, however, he remains confident that this people will one day ascend to their full political, economic, and cultural potential: "Our desire to be modernized has been awakened, and it cannot be denied. Women want liberation from traditional oppression; we all want access to education and material wealth; and we are tired of being ignored by the world."—Amazon Review

*   *   *   *   *'s 25 Best Selling Books



#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

*   *   *   *   *

Salvage the Bones

A Novel by Jesmyn Ward

On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family that’s about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrina’s inexorable winds is the voice of Ward’s narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her family’s raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brother’s “blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt.” Her father’s hands “are like gravel,” while her own hand “slides through his grip like a wet fish,” and a handsome boy’s “muscles jabbered like chickens.” Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isn’t usually just metaphor for metaphor’s sake.

She conveys something fundamental about Esch’s fluid state of mind: her figurative sense of the world in which all things correspond and connect. She and her brothers live in a ramshackle house steeped in grief since their mother died giving birth to her last child. . . . What remains, what’s salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.—WashingtonPost

*   *   *   *   *

Life on Mars

By Tracy K. Smith

Tracy K. Smith, author of Life on Mars has been selected as the winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. In its review of the book, Publishers Weekly noted the collection's "lyric brilliance" and "political impulses [that] never falter." A New York Times review stated, "Smith is quick to suggest that the important thing is not to discover whether or not we're alone in the universe; it's to accept—or at least endure—the universe's mystery. . . . Religion, science, art: we turn to them for answers, but the questions persist, especially in times of grief. Smith's pairing of the philosophically minded poems in the book’s first section with the long elegy for her father in the second is brilliant." Life on Mars follows Smith's 2007 collection, Duende, which won the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets, the only award for poetry in the United States given to support a poet's second book, and the first Essence Literary Award for poetry, which recognizes the literary achievements of African Americans.

The Body’s Question (2003) was her first published collection. Smith said Life on Mars, published by small Minnesota press Graywolf, was inspired in part by her father, who was an engineer on the Hubble space telescope and died in 2008.

*   *   *   *   *

The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

*   *   *   *   *

Ancient African Nations

*   *   *   *   *

If you like this page consider making a donation

online through PayPal

*   *   *   *   *

Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        


*   *   *   *   *

The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

*   *   *   *   *

The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

*   *   *   *   *

*   *   *   *   *

ChickenBones Store (Books, DVDs, Music, and more)






update 17 May 2012




Home  The African World

Related files: Manthia Diawara Preface   Diawara Reviews