In 1997, he was dean of Marien Ngouabi University in Brazzaville when war broke out in the Republic of Congo. Bard College president Leon Botstein, who has aided a number of refugee professors, offered him a job teaching chemistry at the American college.
He is the author of a number of award-winning novels including Johnny Mad Dog (French: Johnny Chien Méchant) and Little Boys Come from the Stars. His work is featured in the Penguin Book of Modern African Poetry, and he has been the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship. There is a film based on his book Johnny Mad Dog, a 2008 French-Liberian film directed by Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire and starring Christopher Minie, Daisy Victoria Vandy, Dagbeh Tweh, Barry Chernoh, Mohammed Sesay and Joseph Duo. He was winner of the 2004 Cezam Prix Littéraire Inter CE for Johnny chien méchant.
- "Cezam Prix Littéraire Inter CE". Retrieved 2011-07-11.
- Simon's Rock College: Emmanuel Dongala
- Simon's Rock online newsletter, June 2005[permanent dead link]
- Dr. Emmanuel Dongala discusses and reads from his new novel, Johnny Mad Dog. (MP3) Simon's Rock Faculty Forum, originally aired on WBCR-LP, Great Barrington, MA (archive.org)
- 2001 Interview with Terry Gross on National Public Radio's Fresh Air program
- New York State Writers Institute - Emmanuel Dongala
- Washington Post review of Johnny Mad Dog
- Arts Abroad; Reflections on African War, From a Haven in the U.S. New York Times, May 7, 1998
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