Black Bazaar by Alain Mabanckou


Black Bazaar by Alain Mabanckou

Congolese fiction

Translator -Sarah Ardizzone

Source – Library

So after a few days away from the blog I return with another of this years Independent foreign fiction prize Long-listed books and this time it is From the Congolese writer Alain Mabanckou .This is the third book from him I have reviewed on Winstonsdad ,I have previously covered Broken Glass and Memories of a porcupine .Now the big change in this book than the two previous books which have both been set in Congo is that this book is set in the Paris ,but more the Paris of the African immigrant a very different one than the one we know and also the story of one Man and the people he knows .

Because he keeps going on about the Hippocratic oath ,we’ve ended up nicknaming him Mr Hippocratic .Seeing as he can’t insult the whole earth, he takes it out on me instead .Mr Hippocratic likes to cultivate his garden at my expense .He says ,for example ,that most blacks he knows ,I always put the cart before the horse ,I’m not worth Peanuts ,I’m a cabbage head ,with an artichoke for a heart

The racist neighbour of the Buttologist .

The main character in this book is a Congolese man from the capital of Congo ,the same as Alain Mabanckou ,but our man character is a colourful chap who has earned the name Buttologist ,he is one of these chaps that has a swagger about him a modern-day Dandy .He is one of a group of guys that have a certain air around them .This is almost a keen to the English gang novels of Richard Allen who charts the life of Joe a skinhead that then becomes a young man in his other books .This is the story of a man coping with the world around him .The title is a reference to a diary that the Buttologist keeps .He is a man in mourning not for someone who has died, but for his women the women called Original Colour by Buttologist and his friends she earned the name because of the deep colour of her skin ,well she has taken of with his son, who with a midget ,she has gone back to the Congo and left the Buttologist .We see how Buttologist copes with this loss but also through what his friends say a large picture of being African in Paris .But also how being African has been shaped in them the books the read ,the music they like ,how they perceive life .

I buy books from the rideau Rouge .And what do I remember from what I’ve read ?

A dazzling truth: it’s thanks to colonisation that Cameroonian Ferdinand Onyono wrote The old man and the medal and Houseboy ; it’s thanks to Colonisation another Cameroonian ,Mongo Beti wrote cruel Town and The poor christ of Bomba .

I read this and Smiled I have read Mongo Beti’s king Lazurus last year but never got to review it yet so will be tomorrow .

I love Mabanckou ,this is my third read from him ,every time I go wow .He is a writer that seems the same yet different in every book ,if that makes sense he has grown as a writer of the books but also has kept what I loived the first time I read him in the heart of the book and that is the interaction of everyday people .Buttologist is a guy you often see around ,not always from Congo the sharper dressed African is some one I ve meet via work and like Buttologist what on the outside the maybe brash dandy looking chap isn’t what they are all about .The other thing I love in Mabanckou writing is a dry and dark wit subtle and shows the clashing of African culture and French culture but also ,the clashing of different african nations as one passage about living in a house with a few Nigerian women and how they argue made me laugh .I see why this was picked for the IFFP longlist ,Sarah Ardizzone has done a great job on keep what appears from talking to Tony who has read it in the original French a vibrant book alive .

Have you read Alain ,which is your favourite by him ?

15 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. naomifrisby
    Mar 27, 2013 @ 19:41:26

    I so want to read this. Of the IFFP books, this looked the most interesting of those I hadn’t come across and your review’s definitely made me want to give it a go.


  2. Tony
    Mar 27, 2013 @ 20:52:42

    Finished this a few days ago, and I ordered a couple more of his to try straight after 🙂

    I must say I don’t like the choice of name ‘Buttologist’ – the original French ‘Fessologue’ sounds much better 😉


  3. parrish lantern
    Mar 27, 2013 @ 21:13:59

    Bought the porcupine one ages ago as a kindle daily deal. Not yet read it. Not yet located a copy of this for IFFP.


  4. Trackback: Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2013 (Shadow Jury combined reviews) | ANZ LitLovers LitBlog
  5. Brian Joseph
    Mar 28, 2013 @ 10:08:19

    I really need to read more African literature. Mabanckou sounds good. I like stories that focus on diverse cultures interacting.


  6. lascosas
    Mar 29, 2013 @ 23:38:19

    Hi there. I finished 24 of the 25 Best Translated Book Award longlist, so have moved over to this longlist. I’ve read half of them so far, and am leaving minor comments over at Mookse’s forum.

    I wasn’t a fan of this book. His humor and exuberance are very much of a certain type of male that didn’t sit well with this dyke. Buttologist is as good an example as any.

    But I wanted to point out an odd coincidence. There are only three books on the two longlists written by Africans. Two of the authors, Mabanckou & Waberi teach in or near my home town of Los Angeles.


    • winstonsdad
      Apr 08, 2013 @ 03:42:05

      I think it’s part of a trend Franco African
      Lit getting more and more focus .i m not overly sure of some of the names have been translated they just don’t
      Sit right in English some how all the best stu


  7. BookerTalk
    Jan 06, 2014 @ 08:43:25

    I’ve read only one of his – Broken Glass – but I loved it. The style was refreshingingly different.


  8. Trackback: The lights of Point-Noire by Alain Mananckou | Winstonsdad's Blog

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March 2013


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