Michel, a young Congolese from Pointe-Noire, prepares to pass his elementary school certificate when a military coup tears apart his life, his worldview and his idea of truth. An uncle, a well-off soldier in Brazzaville, was murdered on this occasion. This is probably not the best time for Maman Pauline (confederate woman), in mourning clothes and with a shaved head, to request the repayment of the loan from Antoinette Ebaka, chair of the Revolutionary Union of Women (URFC).
Mabanckou is one of the greatest storytellers, famous for his book Black Moses. Les Cigognes Sont Immortelles, which combines the personal and political, shows the impact that history, violence, and civil war has on a family, against the backdrop of colonization and decolonization. I was particularly struck by this recent quote of his: “The civilization of tomorrow is the sum of marginalities.”