Reviews of Tram 83
“In this visceral, fast-paced debut novel, acclaimed Congolese poet Mujila examines life in a central African state plagued by instability. . . . Rapid and poetic, Mujila depicts a province where “every day is a pitched battle.” . . . The central characters fight to change the paths laid before them, desperate to rebel against a fate imposed by life in a consumptive environment. Mujila succeeds in exploring themes of globalization and exploitation in a kinetic, engaging work.”
A frenetic writing style, like that of a jazz musician, gives this Africa-set novel an enthusiastic, adventurous energy . . . Tram 83 isn‘t for the faint of heart, but rather, it’s for those that have a sense of humor, an interest in seedy underbellies, and a willingness to, at times, feel a little lost in the haze of biblical imagery, flippant debauchery, free sex, and anarchy. Ezra Pound would be proud; Mujila “made it new.”
Tram 83 reads like a modern, twisted The Great Gatsby . . . Tram 83 offers an unaffected view of humanity that is at once repulsive, hilarious, and oddly uplifting. By the end of the novel, I couldn’t help but be attached to the Tram and its patchwork of bizarre clientele, and I felt almost at home in the midst of the novel’s madness . . . The novel, like the nightclub, is eccentric and somewhat disturbing, yet inclusive and universally appealing.
Stylistically quirky and unorthodox fiction from Africa . . . Tram 83 is the locus of those driven by ambition, desire, greed, or pleasure—and in this underworld we meet quite a cast of characters.
Praise for Fiston Mwanza Mujila & Tram 83
- Rick Simonson, Elliott Bay Book Company (Seattle, WA)
Talk about verve—and vivre: Fiston Mwanza Mujila’s TRAM 83 introduces a rousing, remarkable new voice to this world, surely in its original French, most definitely in Roland Glasser’s superb translation. This book has drive and force and movement, it has hops and chops. It has voices!
- Alain Mabanckou, Man Booker International-nominated author of Letter to Jimmy, The Lights of Pointe-Noire, Broken Glass, from his preface to the novel
A masterpiece! . . . Fiston’s novel has lifted the veil Africa has been compelled to wear over the years, and she now stands naked before us. His voice is original, a genuine breath of fresh air, and we will surely be following this exciting new voice in the years to come. I can hardly believe Tram 83 is a first novel…So much creativity, linguistic innovation, and such a pleasure to read!
I was totally into the wild formal thug-haunted adventurousness of Tram 83.
- Mark Haber, Brazos Bookstore (Houston, TX)
Blade Runner in Africa with a John Coltrane soundtrack.
- Kevin Elliott, 57th Street Books/Seminary Co-op (Chicago, IL)
A unique ensemble of a novel from the Congo that centers around two friends conversing in the nightclub, Tram 83. Through observation and conversation, the reader is exposed to the economic boom and cultural bust of contemporary Africa in search of what the future holds for human relationships and survival in a place where tradition and personal histories are quickly being swept under the rug by global forces. Mujila captures chaos in a hypnotic free-jazz rhythm that is so rarely found in novels of this scope.
- Chad Felix, WORD Bookstores (Brooklyn, NY & Jersey City, NJ)
Tram 83 is part Satantango, part Fitzcarraldo, and part Blood Meridian. A dark, funny, and true accomplishment.
- Dustin Kurtz
Q: What if Césaire beat Houellebecq at his own game? A: Tram 83.