Set amid the chaos of West Africa's civil wars, Emmanuel Dongala's novel tells the story of two teenagers growing up while rival ethnic groups fight for control of their country.
At age sixteen, Johnny is a member of the Death Dealers, a rebel faction bent on seizing power. Even as he is drawn into the rebels' program of terror, Johnny Mad Dog, as he calls himself, retains his youthful exuberance—searching for girls, good times, and adventure. Sixteen-year-old Laokolé, for her part, dreams of finishing high school and becoming an engineer, but as rogue militias prepare to sack the city, she is forced to leave home with her mother and brother—and then finds herself alone and running from the likes of Johnny.
Acclaimed in France, Johnny Mad Dog is a coming-of-age story. Dongala's use of dual narrators makes the novel a vivid and affecting tale of the struggle to survive—and to retain one's humanity—in terrifying times.