Calixthe Beyala

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Calixthe Beyala (born 1961) is a Cameroonian-French writer who writes in French.


A member of the Eton people, she was born in Sa'a to a Cameroonian mother and father. She was raised by her maternal grandmother. Her aunt and grandmother were particularly strong influences on her, and she grew up listening to her grandmother's stories.[1]

Despite the poverty of her upbringing, Beyala was able to get a primary school place at the École Principale du Camp Mboppi in Douala and went on to study at the Lycée des Rapides à Bangui and the Lycée Polyvalent de Douala. She won a scholarship that took her to Paris in 1978, at the age of seventeen, where she obtained a baccalaureate. She subsequently moved to Spain, where she settled with her husband for six years and studied management. Beyala moved back to France to obtain a B.A. in letters and pursued a variety of careers, including modelling and floristry. She published her first book, C'est le soleil qui m'a brûlée, at the age of 23 and eventually chose to become a full-time writer. After divorcing, she now lives in Paris with her two children.[1][2]

Beyala's novels are written from a strongly feminist viewpoint, often focusing on the difficulties faced by African women and children in male-dominated societies. The experiences of her own impoverished childhood are reflected in the themes of poverty, social degradation and injustice that she explores in many of her books. She has won significant recognition for her work, including awards from UNICEF and the Académie française, and praise for the thematic and stylistic originality of her novels. However, some have criticised her work, accusing her of plagiarism and attacking her positive treatment of homosexuality, which has been viewed as scandalous in some quarters.[1]


  • 1998 - Le Prix comité français de l'UNESCO[3]
  • 1996 – Grand Prix du Roman de l'Académie Française
  • 1994 – Prix François Mauriac de l’Académie française
  • 1994 – Prix tropique
  • 1993 – Grand prix littéraire de l’Afrique noire[4]


English translations[edit]

  • Loukoum: the 'little prince' of Belleville, Translator Marjolijn De Jager, Heinemann, 1995, ISBN 978-0-435-90968-0
  • The sun hath looked upon me, Translator Marjolijn De Jager, Heinemann, 1996, ISBN 978-0-435-90951-2
  • Your name shall be Tanga, Translator Marjolijn De Jager, Heinemann, 1996, ISBN 978-0-435-90950-5
  • How to Cook Your Husband the African Way, Translator David Cohen, Psychology News Press, 2016, ISBN 978-0-907-63336-5


  1. ^ a b c Jagne, Siga Fatima; Parekh, Pushpa Naidu (2012). Postcolonial African Writers: A Bio-bibliographical Critical Sourcebook. Routledge. pp. 75–82. ISBN 978-1-136-59397-0. 
  2. ^ DeLancey, Mark Dike; Mbuh, Rebecca; Delancey, Mark W. (2010). Historical Dictionary of the Republic of Cameroon. Scarecrow Press. p. 69. ISBN 978-0-8108-7399-5. 
  3. ^ Dieudonné, Tahafo Fonguieng (2008). Histoire des Femmes célèbres du Cameroun. Yaounde: Editions Cognito. p. 77. ISBN 9956-412-01-5. 
  4. ^ Martinek, Claudia (10 January 2005). "Calixthe Beyala". The Literary Encyclopedia. 

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Further reading[edit]