Léonora Miano’s first novel L’Intérieur de la nuit received a laudatory critical reception when it was published by the French publishing house Plon in 2005. The novel’s depiction of an act of cannibalism in a village of a fictional African nation provides the turning point and central event of the narrative. The novel’s cannibalism has also been central to its critical reception in the west. While many Francophone works have employed and developed the metaphor of the act of cannibalism, Miano “cannibalizes” in her novel in unique ways that prove simultaneously problematic and productively revealing.

This article considers the interviews Miano has made in defense of her novel together with a close reading of the text. The analysis reveals the dilemmas and limitations a Francophone author faces in an act of cannibalizing Africa in literary form and within a western literary and cultural market place invested in trafficking and recycling images of Africa as a dark, backwards continent of unfathomable violence and savagery. This article also examines the close connection between the novel’s fictional rebels who impose cannibalisms on African villagers, the novel’s main protagonist Ayane who witnesses the scene from a distance, and Miano, the western educated author who renders all of this both from within an African “interior of night” and from the west.

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