Broken Glass

Translated by Helen Stevenson

by Alain Mabanckou

List Price: $16.95
Paperback | 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.2 inches | ISBN 9781593763077

“ Wickedly entertaining.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Iconoclastic, packed with literary and cultural references from across the globe, scatalogical humour and biting wit.” —The Guardian

“A dizzying combination of erudition, bawdy humor and linguistic effervescence.” —Financial Times

In Republic of the Congo, in the town of Trois-Cents, in a bar called Credit Gone West, a former schoolteacher known as Broken Glass drinks red wine and records the stories of the bar and its regulars, including Stubborn Snail, the owner, who must battle church people, ex-alcoholics, tribal leaders, and thugs set on destroying him and his business; the Printer, who had his respectable life in France ruined by a white woman, his wife; Robinette, who could outdrink and outpiss any man until a skinny-legged stranger challenged her reign; and Broken Glass himself, whose own tale involves as much heartbreak, squalor, disappointment, and delusion. A brand-new edition of an irreverent, allusive, scatalogical, tragicomic masterpiece from one of our greatest living Francophone writers.

Literary allusions (Holden Caulfield has a cameo) and gentle ironies punctuate this wickedly entertaining novel.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Important, entertaining and subtly moving.

Kirkus Reviews

Whatever else might be in short supply in the Congo depicted by Alain Mabanckou, imagination and wit aren’t . . . Much of the writing from Africa (or at least most of the stuff we get to see) is of an earnest or grim character, and it makes a pleasant change to encounter a writer who isn’t afraid of a laugh.

The Guardian

A welcome reissue for anyone to trace the author’s present success. Throughout the text lie hallmarks of Mabanckou’s career, and in tandem with The Lights of Pointe-Noire, Broken Glass is one of the best jumping-off points to explore the auteur.

World Literature Today

Broken Glass has a loud and living voice, an almost overwhelmingly singular style masterfully translated with dedicated consistency by Helen Stevenson, with fireworks on every page, and expertly navigates its many unapologetically human projects. It casts a bright, honest light on its subjects, and asks questions that are democratic, serious, and perilous for those in power: Whose stories are worth telling? And who gets to tell those stories? All of this even as Mabanckou beautifully, subtly, sadly, and, yes, redemptively tells the story of a narrator grieving from the bottom of a bottle. The book is profoundly literary, bouncingly readable, funny, heartbreaking, obscene, fierce, and restorative. It’s a book of love, really. Tough love. What more could you want from a masterpiece?

—Scott Cheshire, Los Angeles Review of Books

Broken Glass is about a disillusioned alcoholic with a gift for prose, who is writing the story of Credit Gone West, a rundown bar in a shabby Congolese town. The whole book is devoid of punctuation and capitalisation, giving readers the impression they are having a conversation with the main character, rather than reading his journal.

—Aya Iskandarani, The National

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