God’s Bits of Wood tells the story of the bloody and tragic workers’ strike on the Dakar-Niger railway in 1947. The novel honestly portrays the ambivalence between the Africans and the encroaching French and between Africans themselves. “Among my people, no one speaks the white man’s language, and no one has died of it! Ever since I was born – and God knows that was a long time ago – I have never heard of a white man who had learned to speak Bambara, or any other language of this country. But you rootless people think only of learning his, while our language dies.” Although this particular pitched battle between the forces of colonialism and the forces of revolution comes to a disappointing end, Ousmane’s depiction of the spirit of the people makes it clear that the fight to reclaim their language, land, and labor is far from over.
Ousmane’s writing is crisp and textural, as you would expect from an author who is also one of Africa’s best-known filmmakers. –Sacred Fire: The QBR 100 Essential Black Books.