Tram 83 is the debut novel by Congolese writer Fiston Mwanza Mujila (published by Jacaranda in the UK and Deep Vellum in the US). It’s set in ‘the City-State’, which has seceded from its parent country and is now a mélange of locals and incomers, many drawn by the lure of wealth from the local mines. Lucien is an incomer, but his main intention is simply to write; he comes to the City-State with the help of his friend Reqiuem, whose preoccupations are rather more… worldly.
The environment of the City-State is multifarious, and can be bewildering to those unused to it. This is reflected in the jagged swirl of the prose and its arrays of details:
"The Northern Station was going to the dogs. It was essentially an unfinished metal structure, gutted by artillery, train tracks, and locomotives that called to mind the railroad built by Stanley, cassava fields, cut-rate hotels, greasy spoons, bordellos, Pentecostal churches, bakeries, and noise engineered by men of all generations and nationalities combined. It was the only place on earth you could hang yourself, defecate, blaspheme, fall into infatuation, and thieve without regard to prying eyes. Indeed, an air of connivance hung ever about the place. Jackals don’t eat jackals. They pounce on the turkeys and partridges, and devour them."
Language surrounds Lucien as he tries to make his way through this place: dialogue cut ... Read Full Review