Alain Mabanckou: Broken Glass

February 5, 2009

Laila Lalami has written a review of what sounds like an interesting novel: Congolese (living in L.A.) writer Alain Mabanckou’s Broken Glass, which will be published in an English-language translation from the original French by Serpent’s Tail in the UK this month. (She also describes Mabanckou’s first novel to be translated into English, African Psycho.) While Lalami deals very little with the translation itself, except to complain about a badly rendered pun, it sounds like one of those books that only the very brave (or very foolhardy) take on:

Broken Glass tells this story in the form of one long sentence, separated only by commas, quotation marks and white space. Beyond the obvious homage to the oral tradition, this device enables Mabanckou to play with rhythm, his clauses expanding to the length of several lines, or, conversely, hitting up against each other in quick succession.

Presumably Helen Stevenson, the translator of Broken Glass, is the former. Color us impressed. Wonder who’ll pick this up in the U.S.



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