Blue White Red: A Novel

Overview

This tale of wild adventure reveals the dashed hopes of Africans living between worlds. When Moki returns to his village from France wearing designer clothes and affecting all the manners of a Frenchman, Massala-Massala, who lives the life of a humble peanut farmer after giving up his studies, begins to dream of following in Moki’s footsteps. Together, the two take wing for Paris, where Massala-Massala finds himself a part of an underworld of out-of-work undocumented immigrants. After a botched attempt to sell ...

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Blue White Red: A Novel

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Overview

This tale of wild adventure reveals the dashed hopes of Africans living between worlds. When Moki returns to his village from France wearing designer clothes and affecting all the manners of a Frenchman, Massala-Massala, who lives the life of a humble peanut farmer after giving up his studies, begins to dream of following in Moki’s footsteps. Together, the two take wing for Paris, where Massala-Massala finds himself a part of an underworld of out-of-work undocumented immigrants. After a botched attempt to sell metro passes purchased with a stolen checkbook, he winds up in jail and is deported. Blue White Red is a novel of postcolonial Africa where young people born into poverty dream of making it big in the cities of their former colonial masters. Alain Mabanckou's searing commentary on the lives of Africans in
France is cut with the parody of African villagers who boast of a son in the country of
Digol.

Indiana University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Half-truth heightens dramatic irony in Mabanckou's award-winning novel as he explores the enormous gap between cultural expectations and realities within the Parisian world of African dandies. Traveling between Paris and his small African village carrying fashion, gifts, and money to rebuild his parents' home, Moki lives as sought-after royalty during his dry-season return trips; holding court, sorting out local complaints, and entertaining people with tales of his adventurous life in France, all while speaking "French French", the tongue of Maupassant. After telling his neighbor—our narrator—Massala-Massala that he has the right face for Paris, Moki inadvertently convinces him to pursue the Parisian dream. But upon reaching France with Moki and being renamed Marcel Bonaventure, disillusionment sets in; he finds himself sleeping cramped on the eighth floor of an abandoned building and thwarting police in the marketplace. Mabanckou (Memoirs of a Porcupine) dazzles with technical dexterity and emotional depth; as our narrator tells us, "I ended up building a space deep in my heart that isn't enough for me." Vulnerability beckons in this masterful story about a world we always knew was too good to be true, yet reminds us that new skies appear and new seasons begin. (Mar.)
Booklist

"Mabanckou’s provocative novel probes the many facets of the 'migration adventure,' including the shame that accompanies migrants home when their foreign sojourn ends in failure." —Booklist

Africa Book Club

"Blue White Red stands at the beginning of the author’s remarkable and multifaceted career as a novelist, essayist and poet...this debut novel shows much of his style and substance in remarkable ways...Dundy's translation is excellent." —Africa Book Club

Internationales literaturfestival berlin - Ulrich Schreiber

"Alain Mabanckou counts as one of the most successful voices of young African literature in the French language." —Ulrich Schreiber, Internationales literaturfestival berlin

From the Publisher
"Alain Mabanckou can be defined as the 'clear guide' of a new generation of Congolese writers." —Infopagecongo

"Mabanckou dazzles with technical dexterity and emotional depth. Vulnerability beckons in this masterful story about a world we always knew was too good to be true, yet reminds us that new skies appear and new seasons begin. (Starred review)" —Publishers Weekly

"Blue White Red stands at the beginning of the author’s remarkable and multifaceted career as a novelist, essayist and poet...this debut novel shows much of his style and substance in remarkable ways...Dundy's translation is excellent." —Africa Book Club

"Mabanckou’s provocative novel probes the many facets of the 'migration adventure,' including the shame that accompanies migrants home when their foreign sojourn ends in failure." —Booklist

"Alain Mabanckou counts as one of the most successful voices of young African literature in the French language." —Ulrich Schreiber, Internationales literaturfestival berlin

Internationales literaturfestival berlin
"Alain Mabanckou counts as one of the most successful voices of young African literature in the French language." —Ulrich Schreiber, Internationales literaturfestival berlin

— Ulrich Schreiber

Infopagecongo

"Alain Mabanckou can be defined as the 'clear guide' of a new generation of Congolese writers." —Infopagecongo

The Economist
"... the African Beckett." —The Economist
Kirkus Reviews
A coming-of-age story of immigration and disillusionment that begins in post-colonial Congo. This first novel from Mabanckou (Memoirs of a Porcupine, 2012, etc.), published originally in 1998, received the Grand Prix Littéraire de l'Afrique Noire. Growing up in a small town in the Congo, Massala-Massala lives in the shadow not of France so much as France personified by those who return from there to his community. Moki is worldly, wealthy, stylish, successful and a physically present epitome of Paris. When he returns, the community is in a frenzy: Moki has supplied his family with two cars they use as taxis and funds to construct a villa. More important than actual wealth is Moki's style. Moki wears major labels, purportedly purchased in designer boutiques; these outfits, and how he wears them, make the man. During one visit, Moki agrees to accompany Massala-Massala to France, and a year is spent preparing. At the end of his next visit home, they leave together. The book's second half dwells on Massala-Massala's profound culture shock, on the truth of life as a "débarqué," a newly arrived illegal immigrant. He learns that Moki is not who he appears to be; Moki's success is a beautiful illusion, assiduously cultivated as celebrity. In order to obtain his residency papers, Massala-Massala must undergo a sort of initiation: prove his value in the black market where Moki and his friends thrive. A novel of few surprises, it must be seen for what it is: the uneven debut novel of a significant author with a growing reputation.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780253007919
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press
  • Publication date: 2/1/2013
  • Series: Global African Voices Series
  • Pages: 168
  • Sales rank: 1,397,066
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Alain Mabanckou is the author of several prize-winning novels, including
Mémoires de porc-épic (Memoirs of a Porcupine). Blue White Red is winner of the Grand
Prix Littéraire de l'Afrique Noire. He is Professor of French and Francophone Studies at the
University of California, Los Angeles.

Alison Dundy lives in New York City and works as a librarian, archivist, and translator. She has also translated Sony Labou Tansi's Life and a Half (IUP, 2011).

Indiana University Press

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