Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Black Moses by Alain Mabanckou

Black Moses sounds like an interesting read and I have it on my watch list, BUT I have to say that at $15.47 for the ebook at the time of posting, I will not be buying this one any time soon. That, in my opinion, is an outrageous price for the publisher to have set for this ebook. Maybe someone, somewhere, will buy an ebook for that price, but I'm definitely not the one. I'd rather wait a year and buy it as a paperback, or wait for a used copy to pop up on the marketplace. I buy way too many books for me to blow that much money on an unknown. Yes, yes, I know that both authors and publishers need to make money on their work, but there's a line of cost acceptability for me, and this one is way over the line. 

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, Dieudonn√© 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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