Magazine article New Internationalist

Broken Glass

Magazine article New Internationalist

Broken Glass

Article excerpt

Broken Glass by Alain Mabanckou translated from the French by Helen Stevenson Serpent's Tail, ISBN 9781852429188)

I described Congolese author Alain Mabanckou's previous novel African Psycho as a scathing attack on the greed and material values of Africa's élite. His followup is a gentler, but no less astute, affair, set in the lower depths of Congolese society. The owner of the drinking den Credit Gone West asks one of his regulars, who goes by the name of Broken Glass, to write a book about the bar and its customers.

Superficially, the novel is a simple catalogue of the life-histories of the drifters, misfits and losers who make up the clientele of this ramshackle establishment. We meet' Robinette, a prostitute who delights in pissing contests with her clients, among a host of other larger-than-life individuals, finally winding up with Broken Glass himself as the past he has been drinking to forget catches up with him. …

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