Alain Mabanckou’s Broken Glass, a book review.

In the cfwriterz admin group, we just completed Alain Mabanckou’s Broken Glass. You can get it on Amazon. It’s really a strange writing style but I enjoyed it. He gets away with a lot of things, he is a reckless writer and there is so much to discuss, especially his defiance of conventional writing.

He writes like a drunkard and transfers that feeling of intoxication to you the reader. Again he reflects the general disdain other African nations have for Nigerians. He mentions Nigeria in all the most disreputable places but keeps the humour alive.

“Broken Glass” gives you this sense of familiarity. Like Africa is not all that different. Our people, the struggles, our towns, and childhood.

He tells a lot of stories all in one and maybe the reason I like his style is mostly this. I particularly find long prose tedious especially when it’s about just one person and their misadventures.

This is a collection of short stories woven into one long story. According to Peter Carty of the Independent, “Broken Glass proves to be an obsessive, slyly playful, raconteur. Some of his tales are about the patrons, others mock politicians and worthies, and one or two concern his own misadventures.”

He has a way of repeating story details that makes the reader keep track of characters. Even though this repetitions sometimes got on my nerves but they made it possible for the long rambling of the story to stay connected.

There have been other comments about this book from other admin members of the community:

I particularly love Mabanckou’s fertile imagination, and a brazen boldness to go with it. To read him is to always yield to a wide range of nostalgia—the foolish excitement of childhood, and the rollercoaster of adulthood and senescence—of holding your breathe in the rolling of his sentences, following, waiting earnestly to see where he steers you next! – Jeff Ugochukwu

Adeleke Mide says “Hilarious read. His writing style is very strange. I was hoping there will be a full stop at the end. He tells the importance of history and memory. How stubborn snail had asked broken glass to write the book because “I don’t want credit gone west just to vanish one day” also because the people in the country have no sense of the importance of memory. Including the significance of self-awareness.

All in all, it’s a hilarious read, excellent (if I can call it so) imagination that has no problems running amok, very very descriptive. Oh, I love how he describes something until I get bored. – Chukwu Dominic

The Guardian has described this book as “a comic romp that releases Mabanckou’s sense of humour, subtly restrained in his earlier novel African Psycho.” I also share Tibor Fischer’s  Sentiment that Broken Glass showed that Congo may be lacking in a lot of things but not wit and humour. This story makes me want to travel Africa.

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