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Bloomsbury Publishing

Confrontations by Simone Antangana Bekono (Hardcover)

Confrontations by Simone Antangana Bekono (Hardcover)

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Fiction - Literary - Coming of Age - African American & Black 

Translated by: Suzanne Heukensfeldt Jansen


A bold, unsettling, surprisingly tender debut novel for readers of Jesmyn Ward and Nightcrawling.

Salomé Atabong is the sixteen-year-old daughter of a Cameroonian father and a Dutch mother, living in the Netherlands. She arrives at a juvenile detention center to start a six-month sentence for a violent crime, which she did commit but does not regret. Expected to visit with a racist psychologist and perform her apologies, Salomé refuses to atone. But even if Salomé could get home, it would be no refuge: her father has recently been diagnosed with liver cancer, and her elder sister Miriam’s main preoccupation is to get out of the village as soon as possible.

After months in the prison system, she realizes she must come to terms with the real reason behind her rage.

Raw and unsentimental yet lyrical, Confrontations captures the paradoxical demands society makes on Black women, the way communities, schools, and the prison system perpetuate racism, and the cost of Black female defiance.


Simone Atangana Bekono studied creative writing at the ArtEZ University of the Arts in Arnhem. Her debut poetry collection, how the first sparks became visible, was awarded the Poëziedebuutprijs Aan Zee for best first book of poetry. She lives in Amsterdam.


Suzanne Heukensfeldt Jansen is a bilingual freelance translator, focusing on literary fiction and nonfiction. She obtained her postgraduate certificate in literary translation from University College. She lives in London.

“Confrontations unpicks the stitches of a young life prematurely defined by violence. Crime, punishment, privilege and racism are explored with the unsentimental, stark precision of a poet’s pen. Simone Atangana Bekono is one to watch." —Alice Slater, author of Death of a Bookseller

“Confrontations is a moving study of how quietly pivotal events build over time to fuel rage. Simone Atangana Bekono immerses us in the different worlds Salome navigates, gripping us through the character’s distinctive voice. There is a tender stubbornness she possesses, and it sealed my attention from the start. I sighed with Salome, laughed with her, dreamt with her, was frustrated for her. This novel will compel you to reconsider what rehabilitation means, and will follow you beyond the final page.” —Theresa Lola, author of In Search of Equilibrium

“Lyrical . . . perfect for readers who value in-depth characterization. Salomé struggles with the quirks of teenagehood, a troubled home life, and the politics of navigating a world where underlying racist views are treated as normal and acceptable. In her complex and intricate first novel, Atangana Bekono does a fantastic job of exploring the internal conflict of wanting to fit in while also hoping to hold society to account.” —Booklist

“A tightly wound, forcefully lyrical debut novel by an award-winning Dutch poet . . . A psychological mystery whose solution resides in self-discovery.” –Kirkus Reviews

“Salomé’s sharp, voice-driven narration captures the tedium and frustrations of her sentence as well as the depth of her adolescent angst. The slow revelation of Salomé’s crime maintains tension throughout. The final act, which chronicles her release, interweaves her feelings, thoughts, and memories from before and during her incarceration to skillfully portray the difficulty of returning to life on the outside. This one’s hard to put down.” –Publishers Weekly

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