Broken Glass, By Alain Mabanckou

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The Independent Culture

Best known for his novel African Psycho, the Congelese novelist and poet Alain Mabanckou likes to write playfully about his country's more intractable problems.

The eponymous narrator of the aptly named Broken Glass spends much of his time hanging out in a bar in downtown Brazzaville.

He is prompted by the bar owner to keep a record of the stories that he overhears, and he soon fills a notepad with tales of political gossip and personal intrigue.

Broken Glass's top stories include the confessions of a printer who moves to France and catches his wife and son in bed; and a report that the Minister of Agriculture was given the portfolio for Culture on the grounds that all you had to do "was cross out the first four letters".

In a novel of few full-stops, Mabanckou's narrative, translated by Helen Stevenson, gains an uplifting momentum of its own.

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