Lying down does not seem the kind of Alain Mabanckou. This year, when he was a columnist in “l’Obs” and a juror for the Booker Prize, he taught at UCLA University in Los Angeles, produced a beautiful documentary on “Blacks in France”, prepared courses for the Polytechnic School of Zurich, piloted a collection of poetry at Editions du Seuil, traveled to Rwanda, Peru, Colombia. We must believe, however, that something will always be missing from the energetic Renaudot Prize in 2006: his native country, this Congo-Brazzaville where Denis Sassou-Nguesso became president in 1979, and where he himself has not been welcome since almost ten years. To get there, in the face of the authorities, all he has to do is write novels.
In “The Trade of Lying Downs”, Mabanckou defies these authorities so well that even the border between life and death is uncertain. This is the great subject of the book, which begins in the cemetery of Frère-Lachaise: its hero comes out of his grave to attend his own funeral. Is it a double of the novelist? Here is a character that allows him to stroll through his city of Pointe-Noire, from the wooden houses of the Trois-Cents district to the bling-bling buildings of the ” MTV district, in other words, m’as-tu-vu district “.
The green house
“Only a fool measures the depth of water with both feet”
Here, we meet with him the preacher “ Happiness Dad “, who proves capable of sacred crap. There, sensual singers-mourners-dancers “, that ” we pay for their ability to guarantee unfailing compassion to families “. And there, the elegant proverb of a certain “Black Mamba”: ” Only a fool measures the depth of water with both feet. For the author of “Memoirs of a Porcupine”, it’s a dive into the tales of his childhood. A way of saying that this culture remains his. And to radiate a colorful imagination, populated by witch doctors and sweet talkers, where nothing can prevent a ghost dressed in a ” orange crepe jacket to come and go in the setting of his youth.
The trade of elongatedby Alain Mabanckou, Seuil, 300 p., 19.50 euros.Alain Mabanckou: “We must try to live without racial confrontation”
Born in 1966 in Pointe-Noire (Republic of Congo), Alain Mabanckou teaches literature at Ucla University in Los Angeles. He is notably the author of “Mémoires de Porc-Epic” (Renaudot 2006) and “Petit Piment” (2015).