So I am ashamed for the black poet who says, ‘I want to be a poet, not a Negro poet’, as though his own racial world were not as interesting as any other world. I am ashamed, too, for the colored artist who runs from the painting of Negro faces to the painting of sunsets after the manner of the academicians because he fears the strange unwhiteness in his own features. An artist must be free to choose what he does, certainly, but he must also never be afraid to do what he must choose.
The ‘Pour une “littérature-monde” en français’ manifesto appeared in Le Monde in March 2007 only months before a group of authors mainly born of immigrant parents released their own literary manifesto, ‘Qui fait la France?’, to Les Inrockuptibles and Le Nouvel Observateur. Given the temporal proximity of these two manifestos, it is hard not to ask how their projects might compare, especially since both declarations are of considerable pertinence to debates on postcolonial authorship. In much the same vocabulary, both groups of authors – the first led by Michel Le Bris and the second by Mohamed Razane – issue a challenge to the concentration of political and publishing capital around Paris, and ultimately the social and literary reproduction that locks people and texts into categories of the past.