Black Bazaar by Alain Mabanckou
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 ?