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Small Pepper – Alain Mabanckou

Small Pepper – Alain Mabanckou

Petit Piment - Alain Mabanckou
Petit Piment – Edition Seuil

The Loango’s orphanage houses Small Pepper, or “Tokumisa Nzambe po Mose Yamoyindo Abotami Namboka ya Bakok”, meaning literally “Thanks be to God, the black Moses was born in the land of his ancestors”, which is a nickname given to him by the affectionate priest at the orphanage, Father Moupelo, during his weekly visits. Overnight, the shed where they used to meet became the premises of the National Movement of Socialist Revolutionary Pioneers of Congo, one must now obey the scientific socialism, under the auspices of PCT leaders (Congolese Labour Party). Nothing will ever be the same… The director of the orphanage, Dieudonné Ngoulmoumako, increases its severity. Having been persuaded by the terrible twin bullies, Small Pepper accepts to go on a discovery of Pointe-Noire, the city of his dreams. From the orphanage of Loango to the sandy streets of Pointe-Noire, this modern tale tells the story of a little man ready to do anything to change his life and succeed.

What I liked reading in this superb book is, of course, the committed and highly political dimension which is reflected on every page. It is true that the issue of the writer’s commitment is a rather sensitive issue these days, as it is subject to multiple interpretations and questions, but can one write without taking a position? Can one be moved only by the search of visibility and laurels ?

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