‘Préférence Nationale’ by Fatou Diome, translated by Polly McLean

The contemporary musings of a Senegalese woman with a degree looking for a job in France. The title is an allusion to National Front discourse which favours French-born citizens in all aspects of public life. Having recently divorced her French, white, husband, the protagonist is quite literally a second-class citizen with very limited rights. First she is refused a job at a bakery in Strasbourg because her French is too standard and she can’t speak Alsatian, then a French woman looking for a tutor for her daughter changes her mind after seeing her skin colour. The job, unsurprisingly, goes to a white friend of the narrator, who suggests she work as a cleaner instead. 

First published in French in La Préférence Nationale, Présence Africaine 2001. First published in translation in The Granta Book of the African Short Story, ed. Helon Habila, Granta, 2011

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