Black Moses

A Novel

A rollicking new novel described as “Oliver Twist in 1970s Africa” (Les Inrockuptibles) by the finalist for the Man Booker International Prize

“A delicious and delicate novel.” —Le Monde

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, Dieudonné 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 reality 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 De Palma’s Scarface, confirming Mabanckou 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.

Praise

“A wonderful urban tale.”
Le Magazine Littéraire
“Tasty but light to begin with, then quickly built and powerful, ultimately shattering.”
Marianne
“A delicious and delicate novel.”
Le Monde
“From the first sentence there is an ease and spirit, and you know instantly that this story is authentic. Alain Mabanckou has a gift.”
Le Figaro Littéraire

Books by Alain Mabanckou

The Lights of Pointe-Noire
A Memoir

Alain Mabanckou