Greeted with wildly enthusiastic reviews on publication, Alain Mabanckou’s riotous novel begins in an orphanage in 1970s Congo-Brazzaville run by a malicious political stooge who makes the life of our hero, Tokumisa Nzambe po Mose yamoyindo abotami namboka ya Bakoko—his name means “Let us thank God, the black Moses is born on the lands of the ancestors,” but most people just call him Moses—very difficult.
Moses is also terrorized by his two fellow orphans—the twins Songi-Songi and Tala-Tala—but after Moses exacts revenge on them 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 “pointed” (Los Angeles Times), “vivid and funny” (New York Times), larger-than-life tale that chronicles Moses’s ultimately tragic journey through the Pointe-Noire underworld and the politically repressive reality of Congo-Brazzaville in the 1970s and ’80s.
Alain Mabanckou (born 24 February 1966) is a novelist, journalist, poet, and academic, a French citizen born in the Republic of the Congo, he is currently a Professor of Literature at UCLA. He is best known for his novels and non-fiction writing depicting the experience of contemporary Africa and the African diaspora in France. He is among the best known and most successful writers in the French language and one of the best known African writers in France. In some circles in Paris he is known as the Samuel Beckett of Africa. He is also controversial, and criticized by some African and diaspora writers for stating Africans bear responsibility for their own misfortune.