african psycho by alain mabanckou

“Yes, I love vulgarity. I claim it loud and clear. I love it because only it says what we are, without hideous masks we wear by nature, which turns us into mean beings, hypocrites, ceaselessly running after decency, a quality I couln’t care less about.”

I know, I know. I haven’t been posting much, but I also haven’t been reading much at all. University is stressing me out, and I’m just finishing off my first year. Alas, I do try to cram in books, even if it means I have to pick the smallest and thinnest ones.

But then again, I have been very picky around my reads. I’ve been very much into adult fiction and literary fiction as well, or just realistic plotlines. I might’ve very well been conditioned, because very very few of my anticipated reads this year are young adult fiction.
I’ve been very interested in foreign reads, and by foreign, I mean translated adult fiction books. But it seems that I’m mostly drawn to adult fiction books set in Africa, or, Nigeria specifically. I’ve already read one a few months ago, which I absolutely loved, and I stumbled upon this one in a bookstore, as well as another one, but I contained myself and only got this one I’m gonna review, so I guess we should just get started!

“Do I have to stress that I have no flowery memories from my youth other than those of the soccer games with rag-balls?”

To make it short, we’re dealing with Gregoire Nakobomayo, a seemingly normal African man, an indescribably ugly man, neglected and abandoned by his parents, whose just living life in his tiny village.
But heres the catch; Gregoires biggest role model is Angoualima, a now dead serial killer who roamed the streets and caused fear among the whole village and the surrounding ones as well. Gregoire doesn’t only worship Angoulima, but wants to follow his footsteps, to become exactly like him, to the point where his goal is to be “one” with him, talking to him at his grave, planning to continue Angoualimas work for him, and ends up repeatedly plotting to kill his girlfriend, Germaine.
Problem is, Gregoire is a terrible serial killer. He doesn’t know how to kill, how to hide, or most important of all, how to gain an infamous reputation in the media. It’s important to note here that Gregoire is hungry for fame, and not for killing, despite the numerous insults thrown at him throughout the story.

“I was coming of age and beginning to visit our city’s courthouses, and I have to tell you, we were living through the period of the greatest terror, during which Angoualima sent statuettes with severed heads to his future victims.”

Okay, so we got the plot set. This book was supposed to be a comedic take on a mystery/crime novel. I personally don’t think it fits into any category, as it’s more of a weird and quirky read, I admittedly was hooked and entertained by the first half of the book, reading like a journal, but I quickly fell off.
Now, dont take this the wrong way, because I’m fairly sure this book would entertain a lot of people and keep them reading till the end, especially considering the plot and the length of the novel, which is 157 pages in total, but for me, it had a few flaws that made me really dislike the book and made it go from a “I really like this book” to a solid “I guess it was okay, wasn’t all that”. One thing being how unnecessarily descriptive the book is. I get that sometimes you need to describe a whole lot of things, to make the reader engage and feel like they’re at the same place as the main character, but there is also a limit to how far you can go with descriptions, and at times, it becomes incredibly boring, not to mention 6 pages of ranting without any punctuation but commas, which can be tiring and slow.

“Well then, another concrete question that viewers must be asking themselves and that I myself am asking myself: how does he [Angoualima] go about peeing? Because he must surely pee like we do! Answer while still looking into camera C, please…”

“He pees every hour: one thing for peeing even hours and another thing for peeing odd hours, trust me!”

“Quite unbelievable!”

My point is, when you keep building up to climax, and bringing it down, and do it numerous times through the last few pages, I end up really bored and just waiting for the story to end, which did end up with a “so thats it?” from me. And I was pissed, to say the least. But that last sentence may have just been the fact that I hadn’t read any books this month, and decided to pick this one up because it was that short, only to be hit by such an anticlimactic ending, feeling like I had wasted my time.

Anywho, I believe a lot of people would like this book from its dark and disturbing sense of humor, but from a lot of the reviews, and what I recommend, is that you pick it up in the original language, French, because I also felt like a lot of the humor was lost in translation, and I myself prefer to read most books in their original language, besides the fact that I didn’t have any choice at the bookstore when this novel was in front of me, and I don’t speak or read French. I’d recommend for people who like comedies, maybe crime and mystery novels with a twist. But I also want to note that I most likely would’ve liked this book a lot more if I read it in its original language, as I feel a lot of the jokes and metaphors was poorly translated, so don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the book, but felt like it could’ve been done better in English. I gave the book a solid 2 out of 5 stars.

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My name is Batool, but I’m mostly known as Bat or B, so you can call me whichever you prefer. Not only an avid reader and goofball, I’m also a student and professional procrastinator.

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