cover image Tram 83

Tram 83

Fiston Mwanza Mujila, trans. from the French by Roland Glasser. Deep Vellum (Consortium, dist.), $14.95 trade paper (200p) ISBN 978-1-941920-04-6

In this visceral, fast-paced debut novel, acclaimed Congolese poet Mujila examines life in a central African state plagued by instability. Set initially in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lucien journeys from the “Back-County” to an unnamed city-state (outside the Democratic Republic of Congo) with greater opportunities. Lucien moves in with Requiem, a conniving former friend and rival, and together they frequent Tram 83, the most popular bar in the city-state. At Tram 83, Lucien meets Ferdinand Malingeau, a celebrated book editor offering a chance for Lucien’s work to be published. When Lucien’s ambitions as a writer, Requiem’s schemes, and Ferdinand’s desires begin to conflict, the trio garners negative attention from a powerful and dangerous rebel general. Rapid and poetic, Mujila depicts a province where “every day is a pitched battle.” It’s a brutal landscape with regular blackouts and unreliable running water, where many hungry denizens hunt house pets and vermin for food with the same vigor they use to excavate diamonds and minerals. The central characters fight to change the paths laid before them, desperate to rebel against a fate imposed by life in a consumptive environment. Mujila succeeds in exploring themes of globalization and exploitation in a kinetic, engaging work. (Sept.)