Ivorian author. Born 1927.
In the beginning of the 1950s, Kourouma was a soldier in the French colonial army in West Africa and Indochina. Following this, he pursued an education as a banker and insurance actuary.
His book Les Soleils des indépendances ("The Suns of Independence", 1968) is a successful attempt to write a tale of post-colonial disillusionment. It takes place in a fictional country, the Ebony Coast (a clear cognate of the Ivory Coast), and has as its protagonist a former tribal chief, who now lives in urban slum under much reduced circumstances. The book unfurls as an Odyssey between city and countryside, in a search to find meaning in a universe dominated by power struggles and surveillance. The book culminates in a tragic/absurd dénouement on a border between newly-constructed postcolonial states.
A later novel, Monne: Outrages et défis (1989), this time set in a more historical perspective, deals with another chief, whose attempt to collaborate with the colonial power ends in misery.
Kourouma's writings blend elements of African storytelling tradition with existensialist musings, with great skill and poetic force.