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Intimate Strangers

by Francis B. Nyamnjoh

Intimate Strangers tells the story of the everyday tensions of maids and madams in ways that bring together different worlds and explore various dimensions of servitude and mobility. Immaculate travels to a foreign land only to find her fiancé refusing to marry her. Operating from the margins of society, through her own ingenuity and an encounter with researcher Dr Winter-Bottom Nanny, she is able to earn some money. Will she remain at the margins or graduate into DUST - Diamond University of Science and Technology? Immaculate learns how maids struggle to make ends meet and madams wrestle to keep them in their employ. Resolved to make her disappointments blessings, she perseveres until she can take no more.

ISBN 9789956616060 | 334 pages | 229 x 152 mm | 2010 | Langaa RPCIG, Cameroon | Paperback



“Don’t be deceived by Immaculate, a key voice in Francis Nyamnjoh’s Intimate Strangers. At first glance, her observations about the country in which she’s called makwerekwere are open-eyed, light-hearted, going with the flow. Beneath the flow of her experiences, Nyamnjoh has created a darkly hilarious, incisive, and brilliant commentary on what it means to be known – and unknown – in contemporary Southern Africa. The novel is crafted with precision, wit, and a delicacy that exposes your own heart even as it suggests – with simplicity and elegance –- new ways of seeing the familiar.”

Jane Bennett, Director, African Gender Institute, University of Cape Town, South Africa

Intimate Strangers is both an engaging story of a stranger in a strange land, and a feast of revealing observations that link matters such as xenophobia and race relations to the intimacies of sex, romance, friendship, and betrayal.  Brimming with humour, humanity, and cross-cultural curiosity, this book leads the reader through a fascinating set of encounters that provide a vivid and convincing portrait of contemporary life in a modern southern African society.”

James Ferguson, Professor of Anthropology, Stanford University, USA

"I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book. It generated a healthy debate within my mind and stretched my thoughts about the fixed ways in which I formulated opinions based upon expectations and measures of accepted behaviour."

Pambazuka News

"On one hand it reads as a collection of rich, raw ethnographic content awaiting analysis. Yet, elements of it are pure fiction. It appears like a piece of creative non-fiction which offers, among other things, a subtle exploration into the relationship between fiction and ethnography."

Megan Greenwood,



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