Black Moses: Book summary and reviews of Black Moses by Alain Mabanckou

Black Moses

by Alain Mabanckou

Black Moses by Alain Mabanckou
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  • Published in USA  Jun 2017
    208 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

A rollicking new novel described as "Oliver Twist in 1970s Africa" (Les Inrockuptibles) from "Africa's Samuel Beckett ... one of the continent's greatest living writers" (The Guardian).

It's not easy being Tokumisa Nzambe po Mose yamoyindo abotami namboka ya Bakoko. There's that long name of his for a start, which means, "Let us thank God, the black Moses is born on the lands of the ancestors." Most people just call him Moses. Then there's the orphanage where he lives, run by a malicious political stooge, Dieudonné Ngoulmoumako, and where he's terrorized by two fellow orphans - the twins Songi-Songi and Tala-Tala.

But after Moses exacts revenge on the twins by lacing their food with hot pepper, the twins take Moses under their wing, escape the orphanage, and move to the bustling port town of Pointe-Noire, where they form a gang that survives on petty theft. What follows is a funny, moving, larger-than-life tale that chronicles Moses's ultimately tragic journey through the Pointe-Noire underworld and the politically repressive world of Congo-Brazzaville in the 1970s and 80s.

Mabanckou's vivid portrayal of Moses's mental collapse echoes the work of Hugo, Dickens, and Brian DePalma's Scarface, confirming Mabanckou's status as one of our great storytellers. Black Moses is a vital new extension of his cycle of Pointe-Noire novels that stand out as one of the grandest, funniest, fictional projects of our time.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

Long listed for the Man Booker International prize.

"Starred Review. This mythic, beguiling novel is a journey to discover what is hard-wired in us and what we make up about ourselves." - Publishers Weekly

"Starred Review. This tightly contained, densely packed story issues a challenge that never loses its urgency: how does a person cling to a sense of autonomy when it's under siege by so many powerful forces?" - Kirkus

"Funny and sharply satiric...Mabanckou has created a vibrant world in which Pointe-Noir has taken on the stature of an African Yoknapatawpha County." - Booklist

"A delicious and delicate novel." - Le Monde (France)

"From the first sentence there is an ease and spirit, and you know instantly that this story is authentic. Alain Mabanckou has a gift." - Le Figaro Littéraire (France)

"A wonderful urban tale." - Le Magazine Littéraire (France)

"Tasty but light to begin with, then quickly built and powerful, ultimately shattering." - Marianne (France)

"He wields a sweet and fleshy tongue." - La Vie (France)

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Regarded as Francophone Africa's leading voice, novelist, poet, and essayist Alain Mabanckou was born in Congo and currently lives in Los Angeles, where he teaches literature at UCLA. He is the author of African Psycho, Broken Glass, Black Bazaar, Tomorrow I Will Be Twenty, and The Lights of Pointe-Noire). In 2015 he was a finalist for the Man Booker International Prize and the Prix Goncourt des Lycéens.

Helen Stevenson is a piano teacher, writer, and translator who lives in Somerset, England. Her translation of Mabanckou's The Lights of Pointe-Noire won the Grand Prix, 2015 French Voices Award.

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