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Memoirs Of A Porcupine by [Mabanckou, Alain]
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Memoirs Of A Porcupine Kindle Edition

3.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Length: 164 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Review

Praise for Broken Glass:

A dizzying combination of erudition, bawdy humour and linguistic effervescence

(Melissa McClements Financial Times 2009-04-25)

Broken Glass is a comic romp that releases Mabanckou's sense of humour. Although its cultural and intertextual musings could fuel innumerable doctorates, the real meat of Broken Glass is its comic brio, and Mabanckou's jokes work the whole spectrum of humour (Tibor Fischer Guardian 2009-02-21)

Deserves the acclaim heaped upon it... a thought-provoking glimpse into a stricken country (Waterstone's Books Quarterly 2009-02-02)

Broken Glass proves to be an obsessive, slyly playful raconteur... the prose runs wild to weave endless sentences, their rhythm and pace attuned to the narrator's rhetorical extravagances... With his sourly comic recollections, Broken Glass makes a fine companion (Peter Carty Independent 2009-04-09)

An incredibly funny novel, often rueful, on the edge of tragedy and imbued with the spirit of the French classics. There's a tremendous spirit, irreverence and humour in this book (Boyd Tonkin, Chair of the Judges for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2010)

Mabanckou's narrative gains an uplifting momentum of its own (Emma Hagestadt Independent 2009-10-23)

Mabanckou's irreverent wit and madcap energy have made him a big name in France... surreal (Giles Foden Conde Nast Traveller 2011-05-01)

Magical realism meets black comedy in an excellent satire by an inventive and playful writer (Alastair Mabbott Herald 2011-05-07)

Africa's Samuel Beckett ... Mabanckou's freewheeling prose marries classical French elegance with Paris slang and a Congolese beat. It weds the oral culture of his mother to an omnivorous bibliophilia encouraged by his stepfather ... [Memoirs of a Porcupine] draws on oral lore and parables in its sly critique of those who use traditional beliefs as a pretext for violence (The Economist)

Review

Praise for Memoirs of a Porcupine

"Award-winning writer Mabanckou blends the surreal with some sour comic observation, and the dual perspective creates a sharp narrative." --"Booklist"

"[Mabanckou] has come to be known as Africa's Samuel Beckett . . . Mabanckou's freewheeling prose marries classical French elegance with Paris slang and a Congolese beat . . . The novel draws on oral lore and parables in its sly critique of those who use traditional beliefs as a pretext for violence." --"The Economist"

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 799 KB
  • Print Length: 164 pages
  • Publisher: Serpent's Tail (5 May 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004Y5463E
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #319,800 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
I took a chance on this book, but not much of one, buying it in the 12 Days of Kindle Christmas. I'm glad I did. I got a whole lot of entertainment for the price. Its certainly unusual to read something written through the eyes of a porcupine. The porcupine is a humorous and pensive little guy and expresses a lot of emotions that we think of as defining the human state. However, its also very dark, given that the subject matter is murder, carried out by the porcupine on behalf of his human double. The porcupine takes it all in his (little) stride to begin with, even when his own kind turn him out. Gradually, however, the porcupine becomes disenchanted with his role and begins to question whether the actions taken are right. I won't give it all away, but you could say that there is a moral in the tale. The story is set in a Congolese village and I found the descriptions of the village, ways of life and culture interesting too.
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Format: Kindle Edition
This novella by the Congo [Bazzaville] author Alain Mabanckou, b. 1966, is narrated by a 42-year old porcupine ‘familiar’ who, through the agency of a hallucinogenic cocktail, becomes the harmful double of Kibandi, the central human character. As we are told ‘Every person has an animal double that brings them luck; some have doubles that bring evil instead... well, you gotta blame something.‘ The style of the book is similar to Magic Realism with an additional African dimension.

The transmission of a harmful double takes place ‘against the child’s wishes, without the knowledge of mother, brothers or sisters, the humans of who we become the animal incarnation will cease to feel emotions like pity, understanding, empathy, remorse, compassion, night will enter their souls….’

Usually the double lives the same life as the human [‘first cousins of the monkey’, some of whom ‘worship with their eyes shut tight.’] and will die on the same day but here this does not happen and the porcupine’s writing is an attempt to understand his situation.

The story is written as an African oral narrative in five chronological chapters, each describing the porcupine’s life before and during his time with Kibandi, a carpenter, and his family. Each chapter is divided into a number of sections that are written in a continuous sentence that reinforces the verbal origins of the story but is not, initially, easy to come to terms with. The Congolese traditions and superstitions, interweaving of human, animal, psychic and supernatural voices, and the minimalist punctuation all pose particular challenges to the reader.

The book was originally published in French in 2006 with this English translation by Helen Stevenson appearing in 2011.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An interesting idea and nicely written but didn't really go anywhere. I felt a bit disappointed with it in the end.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Odd, very odd. Interesting too, but definitely odd.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x8e85fef4) out of 5 stars 5 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8ea74840) out of 5 stars A nice slice of magical realism - from the east side of the Atlantic 7 Aug. 2013
By S. Barth - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
When I first started reading I thought this reads like Calvino, in a good way. The early section - the narrator's doings with the other porcupines & animals - for me after a while threatened to bog down a little, but when we moved into the human/porcupine connection things definitely picked up, and kept going.
In Cassie Knight's Brazzaville Charms I'd read an outside researcher's view of the obsession with back-biting sorcery in this part of the world - how it brings so much anxiety to life there, especially in the villages. Mabanckou grew up there. This is his first book I've read, and it carried me to the end very nicely. If I wanted an on-the-ground sense of sorcery-angst in Congo Brazzaville, what more could I ask for? I was fascinated.
HASH(0x8e85d6cc) out of 5 stars An African Legend 11 April 2013
By Leora Roth - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Though an award winning and highly praised book, I found it difficult to connect to the culture and legendary style, probably due to its remoteness from literary genres I'm used to. The story is told from the point of view of an animal, a porcupine, that served as an assassin for Kibandi, a young man taking revenge in villagers who harmed him. In his story, the porcupine combines observations and generalizations about the human race. It works better for me when the story and characters evoke observations in an indirect way. Still those open to non- western literature will find this book very interesting.
HASH(0x8e85d5d0) out of 5 stars An interesting book 17 May 2013
By moroziris - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The book isn't an easy read and quite hard to really fully understand. I was given to read it by my book club and after reviewing it I understood more things. Its a truly a good book but compelling. You have to go beyond the local rituals of the local people. That was hard for me.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8f5de9c0) out of 5 stars Great contemporary literature 10 July 2013
By William D Pascoe - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've only read the first chapter so far but know I'm in for something unique, interesting and good. It must be difficult to speak as a Porcupine 'familiar' in the first person, but Mabanckou does it expertly with an unconventional, conversational, minimally punctuated style. Mabanckou lures builds affection for the porcupine narrator at the same time as hooking you in with mentions of his regret at having carried out dark deeds for his human 'double'. The porcupine device, as with any fable, affords plenty of opportunities to poke fun at the folly, arrogance and vices of humans. Mabanckou draws on proverbs and tradition without being sentimental or 'bleeding heart' (though what has happened in Congo would make anyone's heart bleed). One of the best pieces of West African (if that extends to Congo) literature, in fact one of of the best pieces of contemporary literature I've read for a long time - and that's just from the first chapter.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8ee0f1e0) out of 5 stars Never got into the language and images 4 May 2015
By kmbs - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It's a fable and people are superstitious is all I can tell you about this book. After reading, it did not stay with me one bit
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