Le Serpent à Plumes
Grégoire Nakobomayo is an orphan being raised in an industrial town in post-colonial Africa. He’s been shuffled around from one foster home to the next, and has no reason to hope for anything better until he is adopted by a respectable, well-educated couple. He manages to live a peaceful bourgeois existence until the day his half-brother, their only biological son, tries to rape him. After stabbing him in the eye with a pencil in self-defense, he is forced to flee underground. Finding sanctuary in the worst section of town, he befriends a group of street urchins and under their tutelage, learns to hate the society that has brought him to the point of such despair. Ultimately, Grégoire makes Angoualima, one of the region’s most notorious serial killers, his model and mentor. Maintaining a supernatural bond with this now-dead criminal, he visits his gravesite regularly, becoming his disciple, and masterminding elaborate murder schemes that inevitably backfire.
In this surprising and ironically humorous parody of the genre, Mabanckou tells the tale of a clumsy and indecisive serial killer who possesses absolutely no talent. An acerbic critique of the media, and of contemporary African society, it holds Western capitalistic models up to the light, revealing their absurd irrelevancy in the context of developing countries like Africa. In addition, it raises serious questions about the serial killer trope employed in novels like American Psycho by Brett Easton Ellis and Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk.
Alain Mabanckou : Alain Mabanckou was born in 1966 in Congo-Brazzaville (French Congo). He currently resides in the United States, where he teaches literature at the University of Michigan. Hé is a poet and novelist. Les Petits-Fils nègres de Vercingétorix (Le Serpent A Plumes, 2002) and Bleu-Blanc-Rouge (Présence africaine, 2000) are among his recent publications.