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A Trail of Crab Tracks

A Novel

Patrice Nganang; Translated from the French by Amy B. Reid

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

A Trail of Crab Tracks Download image

ISBN10: 0374602980
ISBN13: 9780374602987


432 Pages



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For the first time, Nithap flies across the world to visit his son, Tanou, in the United States. After countless staticky phone calls and transatlantic silences, he has agreed to leave Bangwa: the city in western Cameroon where he has always lived, where he became a doctor and, despite himself, a rebel, where he fell in love, and where his children were born. When illness extends his stay, his son finds an opportunity to unravel the history of the mysterious man who raised him, following the trail of crab tracks to discover the truth of his father and his country.

At last, Nithap’s throat clears and his voice rises, and he drifts back in time to tell his son the story that is burned into his memory and into the land he left behind. He speaks about the civil war that tore Cameroon apart, about the great men who lived and died, about his soldiers, his martyrs, and his great loves. As the tale unfolds, Tanou listens to his father tell the history of his family and the prayer of the blood-soaked land.

From New Jersey to Bamileke country, voices mingle, the borders of time dissolve, and generations merge. In A Trail of Crab Tracks, the third part of a magisterial trilogy by Patrice Nganang, the award-winning author creates an epic of war, inheritance, and desire, and of the relentless, essential struggle for freedom.


Praise for A Trail of Crab Tracks

"The final novel of [Nganang's] monumental trilogy . . . brings the cycle to a dramatic close . . . Dense and immersive, Crab Tracks is also playful, irreverent—a novel of pogroms and resettlement camps but also fancy balls and scandalous affairs."—Anderson Tepper, The New York Times

“A complex . . . story of war and remembrance . . . An effective continuation of Nganang’s project to capture his country’s history.”Kirkus Reviews

“Family dynamics and the siren song of a war-torn homeland play out in Nganang’s elegant, involving [A Trail of Crab Tracks] . . . The story moves fluidly through time and location, providing juicy juxtapositions. Nganang’s genius is in his ability to express the personal and the panoramic with equal artistry. Both intimate and sweeping, this epic brings a satisfying and profound closure to historic events.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Reviews from Goodreads


Read an Excerpt


This must be what death is like, what else could it be? Waking up groggy on a day when the sun is slow to rise. Slowly, ever so slowly, stretching, extracting oneself from the warm covers like a snail emerging from its...

About the author

Patrice Nganang; Translated from the French by Amy B. Reid

Patrice Nganang was born in Cameroon and is a novelist, a poet, and an essayist. His novel Dog Days recieved the Prix Marguerite Yourcenar and the Grand Prix littéraire d’Afrique noire. He is also the author of Mount Pleasant (FSG, 2016) and When the Plums Are Ripe (FSG, 2019). He teaches comparative literature at Stony Brook University.

Amy B. Reid is an award-winning translator who has worked with Patrice Nganang on multiple projects. In addition to A Trail of Crab Tracks, she translated Nganang’s novels Dog Days, Mount Pleasant, and When the Plums Are Ripe. Her other translations include Queen Pokou and Far from My Father, both by Véronique Tadjo, and The Blunder by Mutt-Lon. She is a professor of French and Gender Studies at New College of Florida.

Patrice Nganang

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