23. ilb 06. – 16.09.2023

Kossi Efoui

Portrait Kossi Efoui
© Ali Gandtschi

Kossi Efoui was born in 1962 in Anfoin, Togo, and grew up in a family of artists. While studying philosophy at the University of Lomé, he participated in the student movement in opposition to President Eyadéma. After completing his studies at the University of Benin, he emigrated to France, where, among other things, he wrote for the weekly magazine »Jeune Afrique«. By this point, he had already made a name for himself as a writer and received awards for his first play »Le Carrefour« (1990; tr. The Crossing) and two of his stories.

Most of his twelve plays have been performed during festivals in Europe and Africa. Efoui draws on variegated meanings to evoke fantastical worlds and multidimensional sensory impressions in the tradition of Samuel Beckett and Sony Labou Tansis. The author brilliantly and humorously plays with African stereotypes, breaking away from the pan-African Négritude movement: »The problem is that today it still comes down to Africanism. But we need to move away from the idea of African singularity and uniformity by multiplying our masks and developing proposals for different models of representation.« Efoui’s debut novel »La Polka« (1998) takes place in a dilapidated, nameless capital city where calamity suddenly erupts as residents look forward to the upcoming carnival celebration. Amidst war-like chaos and despite his desperate efforts, the protagonist fails to find his girlfriend while the people around him are fleeing and dying. The sequel »La Fabrique de cérémonies« (2001; tr. The construction of ceremonies) is set in the author’s home country. An African journalist living in Paris after completing his studies in Russia travels on assignment for a magazine to his home country. Due to the military dictatorship in power, he feels unable to deliver the clichéd image of Africa that is expected of his reporting. Efoui’s novel »Solo d’un revenant« (tr. Solo of a revenant) was published in 2008. Most recently, in 2011, he published »L’ombre des choses à venir« (tr. The shadow of future things), in which Efoui slips into the skin of a young man who is hiding in a dark room and tells his story that might also be that of his own home country in Africa.

The author has received awards including the Grand Prix Tchicaya U Tam’si, the Prix du Nouveau Talent Radio de la SACD, der Prix de la nouvelle Africa n° 1, the Prix de la Délégation Générale de la Langue Française and the Grand Prix littéraire de l’Afrique Noire. Efoui has received scholarships, among others, from the Création du Centre National du Livre, the Maison du Théâtre et de la Danse in Epinay-sur-Seine and the Centre National des Ecritures et du Spectacle. He lives in Nantes.