I Was an Elephant Salesman

I Was an Elephant Salesman : Adventures between Dakar, Paris, and Milan

3.32 (25 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author)  , Translated by  , Foreword by 

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A landmark bestseller in Italy, I Was an Elephant Salesman gives a name and a face to the thousands of anonymous African street vendors in cities across Europe. Through the voice of a thinly veiled first-person narrator, Pap Khouma offers us a chilling, intimate, and often ironic glimpse into the life of an illegal immigrant. Khouma invents a life for himself as an itinerant trader of carved elephants, small ivories, and other "African" trinkets, struggling to maintain courage and dignity in the face of despair and humiliation. Constantly on the run from the authorities, he finds insight into the vicissitudes of law and politics, the constraints of citizenship, national borders, skin color, and the often paralyzing difficulties of obtaining basic human needs. His story reveals a contemporary Europe struggling to come to terms with its multiracial, multireligious, and multicultural identity.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 158 pages
  • 139.7 x 213.36 x 12.7mm | 226.8g
  • Indiana University Press
  • Bloomington, IN, United States
  • English
  • 025322232X
  • 9780253222329
  • 1,667,318

Review quote

"One of the first and most influential autobiographical [immigrant] narratives published in Europe." -Alessandra Di Maio, University of California, Los Angeles "Rais[es] questions about youth culture, identity, and migrancy." -Jeanne Garane, University of South Carolina "This autobiographical novel is a treasure, a narrative of courage, optimism, and resilience... Khouma gives his audience much food for thought." -ForeWord Reviews "[T]he sly humor of its first-person narrator...gives this cultural critique the fast-paced charm of a road novel." -World Literature in Review, March-April 2011show more

About Pap Khouma

Pap Khouma is author of Nonno Dio e gli spiriti danzanti [Grandfather god and the dancing spirits] and founding editor of El Ghibli, an online journal of migrant literature.Rebecca Hopkins teaches English and writing at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University in Bologna, Italy.Graziella Parati is Professor of Italian at Dartmouth College. She is author of Migration Italy.show more

Table of contents

Translator's PrefaceIntroduction by Graziella ParatiSellingIllegalAfricaThe Market in AbidjanDakarRiccioneStreet-Smart... Beach-SmartItalian MoneyPaolo il NeroGirls from SenegalPolice... Just Joking!Germany via ParisA Month in ParisThe Foreign LegionFrom Paris to RiccioneThe Car-HouseDouble MalawChief LamanA Senegalese LunchA Dresser in PiacenzaThe End of MaMilanese ChroniclesA Run on the BeachDakar via MoscowLife in SenegalA Tourist in RomeTo Catch a ThiefLacosteFights in the MetroChangesPolitical AccusationsChildrenshow more

Rating details

25 ratings
3.32 out of 5 stars
5 8% (2)
4 32% (8)
3 44% (11)
2 16% (4)
1 0% (0)
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