The Death of Comrade President by Alain Mabanckou (hardback)
A poignant tale of family and revolution in postcolonial Africa, from one of the continent's greatest living novelists
In Pointe-Noire, in the small neighbourhood of Voungou, on the family plot where young Michel lives with Maman Pauline and Papa Roger, life goes on. But Michel's everyday cares - lost grocery money, the whims of his parents' moods, their neighbours' squabbling, his endless daydreaming - are soon swept away by the wind of history. In March 1977, just before the arrival of the short rainy season, Comrade President Marien Ngouabi is brutally murdered in Brazzaville, and not even naïve Michel can remain untouched.
Starting as a tender, wry portrait of an ordinary Congolese family, Alain Mabanckou quickly expands the scope of his story into a powerful examination of colonialism, decolonization and dead ends of the African continent. At a stroke Michel learns the realities of life - and how much must change for everything to stay the same.
Alain Mabanckou addresses the reader with exuberant inventiveness in novels that are brilliantly imaginative in their forms of storytelling. His voice is vividly colloquial, mischievous and often outrageous as he explores, from multiple angles, the country where he grew up, drawing on its political conflicts and compromises, disappointments and hopes. He acts the jester, but with serious intent and lacerating effect.
We should all be reading Alain Mabanckou right now. His brilliantly imaginative novels throw a rope across borders and between people. A glorious, funny, surreal novel, set in communist Congo-Brazzaville in the 1970s.