Alain Mabanckou, author of Black Moses. Photograph- Linda Nylind for the Observer
LONGLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER INTERNATIONAL PRIZE 2017
A small book with a big narrative voice, this wacky new novel by Mabanckou follows the existential misfortunes of an orphan whose “kilometrically extended name” means “Thanks be to God, the black Moses is born on the earth of our ancestors”
Fleeing the relative safety of the orphanage, the only home he’s ever known, Moses makes a life for himself among the villainous “Merry Men” in Pointe-Noire and the friendly Zairean prostitutes of the Trois-Cents quarter. It is far from a peaceful existence, though, and pursuit by the authorities ultimately sends Moses over the edge into madness. Evocatively translated from the original French by Helen Stevenson, this International Man Booker longlisted novel is a rip-roaring ride from innocence to experience.
The Guardian praises it with eloquence. The New York Times says that is heartbreaking... Black Moses abounds with moments of black humor but the levity is balanced by Mabanckou's portrait of a dysfunctional society rent by corruption.
We say it is a journey, more similar to Don Quixote than Robin Hood, and therefore a must read.