" Le sanglot de l'homme noir "
- Nominated for : The Literary Prize 2012
Born in Congo - Brazzaville in 1966, Alain Mabanckou devoted himself to writing after having studied law in Paris. He now lives in California and teaches french-speaking literature at the University of Los Angeles since 2007.
The first novel by Alain Mabanckou, Bleu-Blanc-Rouge, published in 1998, earned him the Grand Prix Littèraire of black Africa. This "book full of humor, which, never the less, portrays the sad fate of many african immigrants in Paris" (presentation by the editor), inaugurated the work of Mabanckou who regularly continues to publish mainly novels, but also essays and compilations of poetry.
The essays he published offer a look from Africa to Europe but also on racialism (Lettre à Jimmy, 2007) and are tinged with a style that gives these autobiographical texts authenticity and a particular sensibility.
The four books of poetry published by Alain Mabanckou between 1995 and 2001 were assembled into one book in 2007 entitled Tant que les arbres s’enracineront dans la terre.
In each of my poems, the tree is the reference, the earth is the memory, whereas wandering still leads me to cross continents.
Poetry has been and remains my breathing territory, my secret room where every piece of antique furniture is a remnant of my joys, my sorrows, my hopes.
And when one speaks to me of poetry, when I hear "music before all things," I think of my mother, Pauline Kengué. I remember the woman who made me a poet, who told me the legend of a porcupine, to whom I dedicate all the compilations that I put together here under the title Tant que les arbres s’enracineront dans la terre. (extrait)
But it is especially by his novels that Alain Mabanckou is revealed to the public.
Unanimously acclaimed by the press and readers, Verre cassé was published in 2005. The author of "Verre cassé imposes a powerful prosody, with no embellishments or small talk. It is an oratory discussion on a very classical scale where humor, poetry, and alcoholic distress form a beautiful alloy." (Jean-Maurice de Montrémy, Livres Hebdo, December 2005)
In 2006, Alain Mabanckou published Mémoires d’un porc-èpic, a novel for which he won the Prix Renaudot. "We love this book right from its dedication: To my mother, Pauline Kengué, who told me this story (give or take a few lies). The sensitivity in it already touches you. Malice and distance too. Alain Mabanckou works like the fable writers and storytellers. A tribute to speech that delivers from the fear of death, written in one breath, without a single full stop, these Mémoires d’un porc-épic are a real delight." (Michel Abescat, Télérama, October 2006)
With Black Bazar, published in 2009, "we relish in this popular language that Mabanckou kneads, electrifies, colors without concern for political correctness. We laugh at this festival of clichés, on all these given ideas about Blacks, more or less dark, about Whites, more or less fair, and women more or less callipygian. A supreme courtesy of the author because, about colonization or Africa, this book is much more serious than it seems. As explained by the narrator, franco-congolese like the author, there is joy in grief, it's like that in my little country ..." (Michel Abescat, Télérama, February 2009)
In 2010, in Demain j’aurais vingt ans, "he puts himself into the skin of Michel, a ten year old boy living in the 1970s in Congo at the time of decolonization. This narrative with a candid tone about a child overwhelmed by the challenges of adults is a real success. Through this child, and always with humor, Mabanckou explains what few essays have succeeded in doing. This is the first time in many years that we see how a small african boy perceived the world. Rarely have we read about history - the history of France and its international whirlpool - told in this way, at this angle. What do we learn in the end? The brainwashing that many young african children were subject to, bathed in the teaching of communism. You must read the scenes where the best student in the class recites by heart the speech of the dictator." (Mohammed Aïssaoui, Le Figaro, August 24th, 2010)
In 2012, Alain Mabanckou publishes Le sanglot de l’homme noir. "Nourished by his own experience from Africa where he was born, France where he studied and America where he teaches french-speaking literature, this opus illuminates the most contentious issues. After declaring himself a son of the rwandan post-genocide rather than the Soleils des independances, Mabanckou addressed an annexed letter to the european authorities by two guinean teenagers found dead in the undercarriage of the aircraft taking them to a paradise called Europe ... With his Sanglot d’un homme noir, the author replies present, twenty years later, to Bruckner’s call to cultural defectors, who travel from one universe to another, breaking ranks, weakening opposition, fluidifing exchanges." (Valerie Marin La Meslée, Le Point, February 2nd, 2012)