Alain Mabanckou: Rewriting the Congolese Story
On 18 March 1977 at 14.30, the third President of the People’s Republic of the Congo, Marien Ngouabi, is assassinated. In the frenzied aftermath, blame flies and ethnic divides widen, and far away, a family member is murdered for their alleged involvement. At least, that’s how things seem to Michel, the naive teenage comrade at the centre Alain Mabanckou’s new fictionalised retelling of this historical moment.
The Death of Comrade President sees Mabanckou back on the fruitful terrain of his 2015 International Man Booker contender, Tomorrow I’ll Be Twenty, offering up another philosophical, fleetingly absurdist portrait of the Congo’s postcolonial transition. Today, the luminary talks to award-winning writer, critic and cultural journalist Maya Jaggi, reflecting on the highs and lows of a career spanning four decades, and his enduring ability to boil the sweeping grand narratives of African history into exuberant, mischievous family dramas.