Days Come and Go

The fates of the three women in this novel span––and inevitably intertwine with––the history of Cameroon, from pre-colonial and colonial times through the independence movements to the contemporary terror of Boko Haram.

PRINT VERSION Buy the print version (hard copy) from Modjaji Books directly      



October 2022







Days Come and Go

At the dusk of her life, Anna is cared for by her daughter, Abi––a reversal of roles that draws mother and daughter closer and opens a window into their lives. Opening with the memories of the dying protagonist, Days Come and Go is the exciting story of three Cameroonian women from three generations: a young Anna who, allured by Western education, finds herself in the midst of a conflict between modernity and tradition; Abi, the journalist, whose liberating idyll with a married artist plunges her tepid family life into turmoil; and Tina, Anna’s young neighbour in Douala, who falls into the clutches of Islamists. The fates of the women in this novel span––and inevitably intertwine with––the history of Cameroon, from pre-colonial and colonial times through the independence movements to the contemporary terror of Boko Haram.

Read an excerpt published by LitHub.

From Bakwa Books:

We are pleased to announce that our main fiction title for 2022 is Days Come and Go by Hemley Boum (translated by Nchanji Njamnsi).

In 2020, Bakwa Books acquired English Sub-saharan Africa translation rights for Hemley Boum’s novel, Les jours viennent et passent, from the Astier-Pécher Literary & Film Agency and commissioned a translation by Nchanji Njamnsi. Days Come and Go is scheduled for a simultaneous release by Bakwa Books in Cameroon and Two Lines Press in the United States of America in September 2022. Available in South Africa, October 2022 from Protea Distribution – distributed in SA by Pulani Publications (of Modjaji Books).


Hemley Boum

HEMLEY BOUM is a novelist, poet, and essayist who has authored four novels, including Les Maquisards, which received the Grand prix littéraire d’Afrique Noire, and Days Come and Go (Les jours viennent et passent), which won the Prix Ahmadou-Kourouma and has been translated into German and Dutch. She regularly publishes articles in Jeune Afrique, Le Point Afrique, and Le Monde Afrique, and speaks at colloquia, universities, and literary festivals. Hemley has facilitated master classes in France, Réunion, Cameroon, and Congo, and has been involved in “La Fabrique de Souza,” a series of literary salons in Douala, Cameroon since 2019. Hemley was born in Cameroon, where she studied anthropology before relocating to Lille, France, to study international trade. She currently lives in Paris, France.

Hemley Boum's author page
Prix Amadou Kourouma

This title won the Prix Amadou Kourouma in the original French edition and has been translated into Dutch and German.

“There’s something of Tolstoy’s War and Peace in this epic novel.… Anna and her family are archetypes of the tragedy of human existence, which may be the true subject of the talented novelist Hemley Boum’s work.” — Radio France Internationale

“Through a gallery of portraits of mothers and children struggling to survive in a patriarchal society in decline…Hemley Boum mixes both intimate and expansive stories.” — Le Monde

 “A chronicle about a rapidly changing Cameroon, [Days Come and Go] tells the story of three generations of women. Anna, a matriarch in Paris, Abi, her daughter, and Tina, a teen who comes under the influence of a militant terrorist faction. In different ways, they all confront, love and politics, tradition and modernity.”The Millions (Most Anticipated Books of 2022)

“Though it records family scars, this is a novel about resilience. . . . Following as three generations work to leave their painful legacies behind for the sake of their progeny, Days Come and Go is a multigenerational story about lost innocence—and about perseverance.”Foreword Reviews

“Cameroonian writer Boum depicts a changing Cameroon through the lives of mothers and daughters.” — Publishers Weekly

Days Come and Go, a one-two punch of Hemley Boum translated by Nchanji Njamnsi, is such a necessary addition to the landscape of francophone literature translated to English, pushing hard against the ways in which contemporary life in France is often romanticized and flattened. Its main characters are several generations of Cameroonian women, struggling to protect their autonomy and their families against the crush of global capitalism, the damaging persistence of the demands of assimilation, and the legacy and present of French colonial terrors. A bold, beautiful, and breathtaking accomplishment of a book.” — Anna Claire Weber, White Whale Bookstore (Pittsburgh, PA)

Days Come and Go is an absorbing family drama encompassing three generations of Parisian women and the persistent pull of their Cameroonian roots. The characters are exquisitely and intimately drawn as the narrative depicts their struggles to understand one another and claim agency over their lives. Family duty and cultural assimilation play pivotal roles in how these women identify and relate to their world. It is no surprise that the author Hemley Boum is a poet—the writing has a quiet, lyrical, power as so deftly transposed in Nchanji Njamnsi’s translation. A book to capture the heart and imagination of any reader who seeks great storytelling.” — Lori Feathers, Interabang Books (Dallas, TX)

“One of the most powerful books I’ve read this year. At once a family saga and a cultural drama, three generations of Cameroonian women strive against corruption, patriarchy, shame, expectations, memory, the intransigence of the past, and the legacy of colonialism.” — Jennifer Martin, Tattered Cover (Denver, CO)

“This book! The layers! Three generations of women, a dying matriarch, an unforgettable story. One of my favorite books of 2022.” — Caitlin Luce Baker, Island Books (Mercer Island, WA)

“Abi’s mother Anna spends her last days in a Parisian hospital talking endlessly, telling the story of her life in Cameroon—her ancestors, her village, the woman who raised her and ensured she was educated, and the tragic impact of the Boko Haram insurgency. Skillfully woven around Anna’s story are the difficult truths of Abi’s life in Paris, her son’s life between Paris and Douala, and the history and realities of Cameroon.” —Margo Grimm Eule, East City Bookshop (Washington D.C.)

“This contemplative novel charting the recent history of Cameroon begins as a mother-daughter story and shifts into a harrowing narrative of three young people recruited by Boko Haram…a rich portrait of a modern African country.” — Amy Norton, Northbrook Public Library (Northbrook, IL

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