O. R. Dathorne
[In Ville cruelle] Beti is not yet doing his thing. He is bending over backward in an effort to write a certain European recipe. The ingredients are there: the wicked colonialist, the virtuous blacks, the need to please the stereotyped dying mother. There are inexplicable events that result from an unsureness of artistic control: the convenient loss and recovery of the suitcase, the brother, Koumé, who slips on a log and falls into the river, the happy marriage at the end of the book. Often some of this builds up into sheer melodrama or fairy tale solutions. However, the novel did not exist as a genre in traditional Africa, so the African writer could choose to create his own form of the novel.
(The entire section is 1147 words.)