Dirty Feet

Dirty Feet

Written by: Awumey, Edem
Translated by: Lederhendler, Lazer

Nominated for the Governor General's Literary Award: Translation and the ReLit Awards

As a small child, Askia was forced, along with his family, to wander the African desert as if under a curse. First driven from their home by drought and hunger, they were then kept from the villages they passed through by the fear and suspicion of others, who did not want to see their "dirty feet" stay for too long.

Years later, it seems Askia is destined to relive his family’s curse night after night as he roams the streets of Paris in his taxi. One evening, he picks up Olia, a young woman who claims to recognize his face, telling him that his features are similar to those of a man she photographed years ago. Had it been his father, the enigmatic Sidi Ben Sylla Mohammed? The father who migrated north long before he did; the father he has so often dreamt about; the father whom he aches to meet?

With Olia’s help, Askia sets out to retrace Sidi’s steps. But before he can embark on this new journey, he must first confront his violent past. A brutal, indelibly powerful look at the harrowing, often violent lives of those who are condemned to wander.

Nominated for the Governor General's Literary Award: Translation and the ReLit Awards

As a small child, Askia was forced, along with his family, to wander the African desert as if under a curse. First driven from their home by drought and hunger, they were then kept from the villages they passed through by the fear and suspicion of others, who did not want to see their "dirty feet" stay for too long.

Years later, it seems Askia is destined to relive his family’s curse night after night as he roams the streets of Paris in his taxi. One evening, he picks up Olia, a young woman who claims to recognize his face, telling him that his features are similar to those of a man she photographed years ago. Had it been his father, the enigmatic Sidi Ben Sylla Mohammed? The father who migrated north long before he did; the father he has so often dreamt about; the father whom he aches to meet?

With Olia’s help, Askia sets out to retrace Sidi’s steps. But before he can embark on this new journey, he must first confront his violent past. A brutal, indelibly powerful look at the harrowing, often violent lives of those who are condemned to wander.

Published By House of Anansi Press Inc — Aug 17, 2011
Specifications 192 pages | 5.25 in x 8 in
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Excerpt
Written By

Edem Uwumey was born in Togo in 1975. His first novel, Port-Melo, won the Grand Prix Litteraire de L’Afrique Noire, one of the most distinguished literary prizes in Africa, and his second novel, Les pieds sales (Dirty Feet), was a finalist for one of France’s most prestigious literary prizes, the Prix Goncourt. Awumey now lives in Canada where he is a teacher.

Short-listed, Governor General's Literary Award: Translation, 2011

Long-listed, ReLit Awards, 2012

Long-listed, IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, 2013