Nafissatou Dia Diouf’s Critical Look at a “Senegal in the Midst of Transformation”

by Molly Krueger Enz

Abstract

Nafissatou Dia Diouf is a Senegalese author who has garnered recognition both in her home country and internationally since she began publishing in the 1990s. Her work, including fiction, poetry, children’s literature, and philosophical essays, portrays diverse topics as they relate to her country such as education, marriage, polygamy, maternity/paternity, the influence of the West, the roles of business and government, and the power of the media. Diouf provides her reader with a comprehensive yet critical view of Senegal and shows how her homeland is affected by and reacts to the changes it currently faces. In a recent interview, Diouf stated: “For me, the first role of a citizen, even more when one has the power of influence such as in the case of writers, is to take a critical look (a constructive critique, of course) at one’s own country.” In this article that combines an interview with the author and textual analysis of her work, I explore how Nafissatou Dia Diouf critically examines contemporary Senegalese society and portrays a country in the process of transition and transformation. Through her visionary writing, Diouf works to construct a new type of Senegalese society and identity of which she and her fellow citizens can be proud.

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Molly Krueger Enz is an Associate Professor of French at South Dakota State University. Her research focuses on representations of race and gender in nineteenth-century French colonial literature as well as contemporary Caribbean and Sub-Saharan African Francophone fiction. She has published scholarly articles in a variety of journals including The French Review, Nineteenth-Century French Studies, and Journal of the African Literature Association. She is currently working on a monograph that examines the figure of the mulatto and racial tensions in colonial Saint-Domingue (present-day Haiti).