The other day, I needed to track down a copy of Frantz Fanon’s classic The Wretched of the Earth for a project I’m working on. Given the book’s subject matter, and the fact that I am in a francophone country, I thought it would be simple enough. I was wrong.
Me: Good morning, could you tell me if you have Les damnés de la terre in stock?
Clerk: Les années de la terre?
Me: No, no. Damnés, you know, like damnation.
Clerk: No, we don’t have it.
Me: Good morning, could you tell me if you have the book by Frantz Fanon, Les damnés de la terre in stock?
Clerk: How do you spell the author’s last name?
Clerk: As in Fatima?
Me: Yes. A-N-
Clerk: As in Nathalie?
Me: Uh, yes. O-N.
Clerk: Sorry, we don’t have it.
Me: Good morning, could you tell me if you have the book about colonization and decolonization, Les damnés de la terre, by Frantz Fanon, F-A-N-O-N?
Clerk: Our computers are down at the moment, but I will write down the author and title and call you back, all right?
Me: Thank you.
Clerk: Okay, so you want Les damnés de la terre by Frank Fanon?
I called the Institut Français, to see if they had it. The phone rang and rang, and no one picked up.