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Little Boys Come from the Stars

Emmanuel Dongala; Translated from the French by Joel Rejouis (with Rose-Myriam Rejouis and Val Vinokurov)

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

The peculiar and moving story of a Congolese boy's coming-of-age amid the political strife of postcolonial Congo

"It is even said-but I admit that it's difficult to believe, even though I got this from my uncle-that when Papa was born, you couldn't follow the World Cup or the Olympics live and that Coca-Cola had yet to spread the selling of soft drinks to our village. Michael Jackson had yet to become famous . . . If all this was really true, I wonder how men managed to fill up the twenty-four hours of the day, three hundred sixty-five days a year."

His nickname is Matapari, which means "trouble." He is an African child of the '90s-brilliant, mischievous, postcolonial, postmodern-caught in the crossfire of a chaotically liberated African country. Matapari grows up in a world of talking drums, the Internet, and satellite TV, a world of dictators who remake themselves as democrats overnight. His uncle is a stooge for the dictator; his father is a scholarly recluse obsessed with proving that blacks played key roles in Western history. Matapari is a young man in the middle-but the shrewdness and wit with which he tells his often riotously funny story set him apart from his relatives and countrymen. Emmanuel Dongala uses the ingenious viewpoint of a child to show up the telltale world of adults-and to show how one preserves one's independence in a corrupt and violent society.

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 I was almost never born.
I almost never got to chase after a ray of light trying to catch it, almost never discovered those strange regions where dreams come to life and play before scampering along to sleeping minds. I almost never felt Aledia’s breast behind the lantana bushes that scratched us as we passed. Honestly, I was almost never born. Maman left the hospital with me still in her womb.
She always swore up and down that she didn’t do it on purpose, forever repeating in her meek voice: How could I have imagined, Matapari my son, that, after the twins came out of my
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Emmanuel Dongala; Translated from the French by Joel Rejouis (with Rose-Myriam Rejouis and Val Vinokurov)

  • Emmanuel Dongala, a novelist and scientist, was a lifelong resident of Brazzaville, capital of the Congo Republic (formerly French Congo), until leaving the country during its civil war in 1997. He teaches at Simon's Rock of Bard College and lives in Western Massachusetts.
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Little Boys Come from the Stars

Emmanuel Dongala; Translated from the French by Joel Rejouis (with Rose-Myriam Rejouis and Val Vinokurov)

  • e-Book

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