Ahmadou Kourouma’s remarkable novel is narrated by Bingo, a West African sora – storyteller and king’s fool.
Over the course of five nights, he tells the life story of Koyaga, President and Dictator of the Gulf Coast. Orphaned at the age of seven, Koyaga grows up to be a terrible hunter; he fights mystical beasts, and is a shape-shifter, capable of changing himself into beasts and birds. He fights in the French colonial armies, in Vietnam and Algeria, but on his return, he mounts a coup and becomes ruler and distator of the Gulf Coast.
For thirty years, he runs a corrupt but ‘clean’ state, surviving repeated assassination attempts and gaining support and investment from abroad. But, when the ‘First World’ decide they no longer want to support dictatorships and call for democracy, he needs another ruse to maintain himself in power …