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Tomorrow I'll Be Twenty [Paperback]

Alain Mabanckou , Helen Stevenson
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
Price: 6.29 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

9 May 2013
Michel is ten years old, living in Pointe Noire, Congo, in the 1970s. His mother sells peanuts at the market, his father works at the Victory Palace Hotel, and brings home books left behind by the white guests. Planes cross the sky overhead, and Michel and his friend Lounès dream about the countries where they'll land. While news comes over the radio of the American hostage crisis in Tehran, the death of the Shah, the scandal of the Boukassa diamonds, Michel struggles with the demands of his twelve year old girlfriend Caroline, who threatens to leave him for a bully in the football team. But most worrying for Michel, the witch doctor has told his mother that he has hidden the key to her womb, and must return it before she can have another child. Somehow he must find it. Tomorrow I'll Be Twenty is a humorous and poignant account of an African childhood, drawn from Alain Mabanckou's life.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Serpent's Tail (9 May 2013)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 1846685842
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846685842
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.8 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 373,656 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"'Africa's Samuel Beckett... Mabanckou's freewheeling prose marries classical French elegance with Paris slag and a Congolese beat' (Economist) 'Mabanckou's irreverent wit and madcap energy have made him a big name in France' (Giles Foden, author of the Last King of Scotland) 'A dizzying combination of erudition, bawdy humour and linguistic effervescence' --Financial Times

'A novelist of exuberant originality … refreshing logic pervades this delightful comic novel in which the boy narrator's ingenuousness is teamed with a sly authorial wit … Its seductive charm and intelligence recentre the world so that all readers can indeed become Congolese' Guardian

'Perhaps his best yet … Michel's voice is compelling … he is, in fact, incomparable' Financial Times

'Clear-eyed warmth and charm … will cleanse the palate and refresh the spirit' --Boyd Tonkin, Independent

Book Description

An irresistible and heart-warming child's-eye view novel set in Africa

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars I rarely fail to finish a book but... 8 Jan 2014
By JellieG
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have set this aside and may come back to it - but I doubt it. Yes, parts of it seem quite charming but it's just not believable as a real boy - maybe how Alain Mabanckou would like to have been perhaps! FAR too irritating I'm afraid.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Tomorrow I'll be twenty Alain Mabanckou 10 Dec 2013
By Stevie
You have to read this book to appreciate it: a (good?) translation from the original French, written from the point of view of a young teenager growing up in the Republic of Congo. I found it brought laughter and tears and also made me stand back and think.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A delightful novel 2 Aug 2013
By JAK - Published on
Books about 10 year old children provoke skepticism in my mind. I tend to think they will be false and sentimental.This novel is neither.It is a delightful, often funny read that doesn't strike a false note.The setting is the Peoples Republic of the Congo(Brazzaville) circa 1978.It must have been a very interesting place.The country had been independent from France for less than 20 years and French cultural influence and prestige was still great.After independence the country lurched leftward to the point where it was proclaimed a one party Marxist-Leninist Peoples Republic.Most of the people were at least nominal Christians who remained comfortable with traditional African religious beliefs.The President, undoubtedly a stalwart Leninist , is said to have his own fetishist(aka, to the unenlightened ,"witch doctor").The regime appears not to have been too worried about religion Christian or Traditional.The novels protagonist , Michel beautifully reflects this cultural stew.He'll reflect on what he's heard from the priest at the Cathedral while speculating on ghosts and demons.He assumes fetishes work , at least sometimes.Western sexual morality is simply not taken into consideration.He knows it's prestigious to read French literature and listen to French music.The funniest anecdote in the book centers around this .Michel's father acquires a cassette machine with a tape of some French singer carrying on about a beloved tree.Michel can't quite figure out why a grown man would be crying about a tree but concludes it's some incomprehensible trait of white men.Although he is hypothetically Catholic,has thoroughly bourgeois aspirations,and affection for the trappings of the old colonial power;he is also a dedicated young pioneer and loyal to the Congolese Workers Party.Still he is turned off by his uncles portraits of Marx, Engels and Lenin and is actually somewhat amused or puzzled by the description of the Peoples Republics founder as "immortal" given that he was killed just a couple of years earlier in a coup.

World music lovers take note, Papa Wemba makes an appearance. Poetry lovers, Arthur Rimbaud does too.If you have a semblance of sense of humor and a curiosity about modern Africa, this is a book you will want to read.
4.0 out of 5 stars A naive but very interesting writing style 30 Sep 2013
By Marie Aastrup - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed seeing the every day life in a typical African town through the eyes of a young boy making it so much more interesting as he is quoting the view and the radio programmes that his father is listening to.
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