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African Psycho

por Alain Mabanckou

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1377153,073 (2.91)42
Its title recalls Bret Easton Ellis's infamous book, but while Ellis's narrator was a blank slate,African Psycho's protagonist is a quivering mass of lies, neuroses, and relentless internal chatter. Gregoire Nakobomayo, a petty criminal, has decided to kill his girlfriend Germaine. He's planned the crime for some time, but still, the act of murder requires a bit of psychological and logistical preparation. Luckily, he has a mentor to call on, the far more accomplished serial killer Angoualima. The fact that Angoualima isdead doesn't prevent Gregoire from holding lengthy conversations with him. Little by little, Gregoire interweaves Angoualima's life and criminal exploits with his own. Continuing with the plan despite a string of botched attempts, Gregoire's final shot at offing Germaine leads to an abrupt unraveling. Lauded in France for its fresh and witty style,African Psycho's inventive use of language surprises and relieves the reader by injecting humor into this disturbing subject.… (mais)
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Mostrando 1-5 de 7 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
Un altro di quei personaggi sgangherati che Mabanckou – lo scrittore congolese or ora reduce da un insegnamento sulle letterature africane al Collège de France, caso finora unico nel suo genere – predilige, anche se è scrittore capace di altri registri, come ha dimostrato soprattutto nelle opere più autobiografiche. Grégoire, con un’infanzia da «trovatello» e per di più dall’aspetto decisamente «brutto», fa il carrozziere a “Colui-che-beve-l’acqua-è-un-imbecille”, quartiere di una grande città congolese di cui non viene detto il nome ma che può corrispondere a Pointe-Noire. Conosce quei vicoli e strade come le sue tasche, ma appare come uno socialmente isolato (non sa chi siano i suoi vicini). In ogni caso potrebbe vivere onorevolmente del suo lavoro, ma un pensiero da sempre lo arrovella: riuscire a emulare le gesta del serial killer Angoualima, rimasto sempre inafferrabile e identificato solo in seguito al suo suicidio. Angoualima è il suo «idolo» e «Gran Maestro», e sulla sua tomba nel cimitero dei “Morti-senza-diritto-al-sonno” si reca periodicamente a confidarsi con lui (che effettivamente gli risponde) sulle sue difficoltà a diventare un criminale di vaglia. (Angoualima è, effettivamente, un personaggio proverbiale in Congo, un “uomo nero” venuto da Kinshasa con il quale si minacciavano i bambini che non volevano andare a dormire).
Tutto questo, e molto altro, il lettore lo apprende dalla viva voce di Grégoire quando decide di uccidere, entro due giorni, una prostituta che da qualche tempo si è trasferita a casa sua. Quale arma usare? Un coltello? Troppo banale. Una pistola? Il Gran Maestro non ne ha mai fatto uso. È forse meglio tornare al martello che inaugurò la sua (inconsistente) carriera di apprendista omicida. Ma naturalmente le cose prenderanno un’altra piega… E l’autore si sarà divertito a darci uno spaccato della vita di povera gente, tra ironia, satira sociale, camuffata compassione e anche un’etica sui generis.
Questo noir, il cui titolo (e contenuto) è parodia dell’American Psycho di Bret Easton Ellis, era già uscito nel 2007 per i tipi di Morellini. La nuova versione italiana, ora nella traduzione di Daniele Petruccioli, rientra nella volontà di 66thand2nd di prosi come editore italiano di riferimento di Mabanckou (con questo, sono sei i titoli al suo attivo). L’edizione originale è del 2003, ossia di poco prima dell’uscita di "Pezzi di vetro", romanzo di cui sembra preparare il più sviluppato microcosmo. ( )
  Pier-Maria | May 22, 2017 |
Republic of the Congo (Congo-Brazzaville)

A fun antithesis to Bret Easton Ellis's [b:American Psycho|28676|American Psycho|Bret Easton Ellis|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1223432558s/28676.jpg|2270060]. The misogynistic protaqonists of both books strategize about how to harm a woman, but Mabanckou's narrator is not trendy, privileged, good looking, dispassionate, or competent. The story is vividly told, interior, and emotionally on-edge. He's no Meursault, and he's ultimately no match for his own self-loathing. Lots of word play and descriptions of poverty and disenfranchisement in the Republic of the Congo. It's perhaps a commentary on the difficulty of creating an authentic African self-construct in the context of colonial history. ( )
  OshoOsho | Mar 30, 2013 |
I'm not sure what attracted me to this book other than China Miéville included it in his short list of recently read books, but I was not intimidated. I have read several Joyce Carol Oates's novels where she explores the minds of serial killers (i.e. [Zombie], [The Triumph of the Spider Monkey]), it couldn't be any worse, could it?

I knew it was a take on [American Psycho] by Bret Easton Ellis, a controversial, satirical novel that I have NOT read (nor have I seen the movie). So, I read up on the book before starting this one.

Like it's American predecessor, [African Psycho] is told in first person by a young man, and is an unrelenting narrative of crimes. As far as I can tell, that may be were the similarities end. Grégorie Nakaobomayo has had a tough life with a few brighter spots in it. He's an intelligent guy, who runs an auto repair shop. He's obsessed with a notorious murderer named Angoulima, who has been terrorizing the country for years. After Angoulima dies, he goes to his grave and talks to him. Up until now, Greg has lived a life of mostly petty crime, but yearns to make his mark, perhaps capture his 15 minutes of fame, by pulling off a spectacular murder in the vein of his idol. He is obsessed with this idea. The book, while pretty tough to read because of its violent and base content, had some interesting bits. One is where Greg muses:

I have my doubts about theories claiming to explain the behavior of people like me as the result of a disturbed past, a corrupted youth. Could it really be that my willpower has no part in what I undertake? That my entire life has been drawn in advance so that I am only following a path established by a force above me? Let me just laugh for a moment! People talk and have no clue how far they are from reality! Am I going to listen to them—me? Am I going to give credit to these ratiocinations?

Or when he explains his aversion to firearms, which he thinks are cowardly, used by people who fear face-to-face confrontation (here I might think this section a poke in the eye to American culture which is obsessed with firearms). It's an interesting book, the author definitely promising, and I think I might like to see what others have taken away from this short novel. While I won't tell you exactly what happens, one does have to wonder, in the end, how much of his talk and actions were mostly just in his head. ( )
1 vote avaland | Sep 7, 2011 |
A graphic, disturbing, and violent tract written in a first person narrative. The protagonist, from The Republic of Congo (Brazzaville), lives in a town called He-Who-Drinks-Water-Is-An-Idiot, and the names of the streets and bars are equally amusing--perhaps the only amusing portions of the novel. The hapless protagonist--is he harmful or harmless?-muses about methods of committing murder, and relates details of his 'idol's' crimes that are graphic and disappointing. The book is only somewhat similar to the book American Psycho by Brett Easton Ellis. The protagonist's foil and mentor speaking from the grave is perhaps the only realistic character voice outside the Gregory, the main character. All in all, not for the faint of heart, and probably all-too-realistic tale of what happens when an society that is troubled in areas of economics, crime, law, immigration, and morality intersect with someone most likely mentally ill--one hopes it does not glamorize violence. ( )
  shawnd | May 30, 2009 |
When AFRICAN PSYCHO by Alain Mabanckou arrived in my book stack, I really wasn't sure what to expect. I've finished it now and I'm still not sure what I got. But I do remember it!

Gregoire is a neglected child - an ugly child - an anonymous child - abandoned by his parents - he's raised in an increasingly haphazard manner really by himself mostly. He vows he will be different. He will be remembered. He vows to escape his humdrum reality and commit a spectacular murder. Just like his idol - the serial killer Angoualima. Angoualima is Gregoire's guide, his mentor, his hero. He's dead, but that doesn't mean that Gregoire is separated from him, often sharing his plans when sitting on Angoualima's grave.

Told in Gregoire's own voice, AFRICAN PSYCHO is a journey into the macabre, the funny, the sad, the desperate and the disturbing. At the same time, there are great sweeping vistas of the absurd - not the least because the author uses the most bizarre names for places - "He-Who-Drinks-Water-Is-An-Idiot" is where Gregoire lives. The novel isn't set in a real place, just as Gregoire's life is somehow not quite real.

AFRICAN PSYCHO isn't a book that fits into any "category" that's for sure. It's frequently weird, it's often confusing, but at the same time it's compelling, intriguing and just a little sad. Gregoire's an unreliable narrator in some ways, not by artifice or to manipulate. He's fragile. He's very damaged. The world he lives in isn't anywhere near where the rest of us lead our lives.

It's not an easy book to read, partially because it doesn't fit into any particular pattern or mould. It's also not an easy book to read as Gregoire's somebody who despite everything, that you could very well find yourself caring about - a lot. ( )
  austcrimefiction | May 19, 2009 |
Mostrando 1-5 de 7 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
Such a lunatic yearning is familiar in fiction, a trick that goes back at least to Dostoyevsky. Likewise familiar is the challenge before the protagonist. The drama’s in the waffling: will he or won’t he? Alain Mabanckou’s novel, the first of three of his books to appear in English this year (the Congolese author has won a number of prestigious prizes in France, including the Renaudot), discovers a fascinating new way to hang readers on those tenterhooks.
adicionada por paradoxosalpha | editarThe Believer, John Domini (Mar 1, 2007)
 

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Its title recalls Bret Easton Ellis's infamous book, but while Ellis's narrator was a blank slate,African Psycho's protagonist is a quivering mass of lies, neuroses, and relentless internal chatter. Gregoire Nakobomayo, a petty criminal, has decided to kill his girlfriend Germaine. He's planned the crime for some time, but still, the act of murder requires a bit of psychological and logistical preparation. Luckily, he has a mentor to call on, the far more accomplished serial killer Angoualima. The fact that Angoualima isdead doesn't prevent Gregoire from holding lengthy conversations with him. Little by little, Gregoire interweaves Angoualima's life and criminal exploits with his own. Continuing with the plan despite a string of botched attempts, Gregoire's final shot at offing Germaine leads to an abrupt unraveling. Lauded in France for its fresh and witty style,African Psycho's inventive use of language surprises and relieves the reader by injecting humor into this disturbing subject.

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