A Tree for Poverty


145 pages
ISBN 1-55022-177-9
DDC 893.5





Reviewed by Patricia Morley

Patricia Morley is professor emeritus of English and Canadian studies at
Concordia University and the author of Margaret Laurence: The Long
Journey Home and As Though Life Mattered: Leo Kennedy’s Story.


Margaret Laurence’s African-based writings have only begun to receive
the kind of critical attention accorded her magnificent “Manawaka”
fictions set in Canada. A Tree for Poverty (1954), Laurence’s first
published book, contains translations of Somali poetry and folk tales,
together with a long introduction. Remarkably, this work is the first
translation of Somalia’s rich oral literature.

Donez Xiques’s well-researched introduction sets the poems and tales
in context, and provides historical background for this unique African
country, which Laurence loved and respected. Although she relied heavily
on the paraphrases made initially by others, Xiques stresses the
importance of Laurence’s own work as a translator and argues that the
process of translating had a profound impact on her own writing for
years to come. It is good to have this volume available once again, for
Laurence herself regarded her African books as inseparable from her
Canadian ones.


Laurence, Margaret., “A Tree for Poverty,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 22, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/13444.