Award-winning journalist Joris (Back to the Congo, Mali Blues) gracefully re-imagines the non-fiction genre in this work of ""literary reportage,"" an exhaustively researched, colorfully executed look at war-torn Congo that was released in Joris's native Holland as nonfiction and in France as a novel (the facts are true, though her subjects could be evasive). A profound portrait of a man and his times, the book follows the life of Assani, a Tutsi cowherd who abandons the tribe of his youth to fight in the Congolese wars, where he becomes a distinguished military man, rising through the ranks of government even as he becomes deeply jaded by the chaos, destruction and suffering around him. Joris's Congo is a fragmented mess of political aggression, ethnic clashes and disintegrating national unity, and if the breakdown of Joris's hero parallels the nation's collapse a bit too neatly, it's made up for in the author's deft handling of Assani's slippery perspective: ""Families paralyzed you; everyone clung to everyone else and they kept asking each other for advice. Assani was against that sort of dependence-it made you lazy."" Joris presents a bare, honest and powerful tableau that illuminates the African delimma in hauntingly personal terms.