Foster child Gregoir Nakobomayo is a foster child who eventually ends up on the streets, forever looking over his shoulder and fighting to survive. He plans to kill someone, and Mabanckou expertly weaves Nakobomayo’s backstory into his current plot.
The first person narrative takes you right inside the mind of a disturbed person. At times, the narrative is so raw that it will make your skin crawl. We get to see all of Gregoire; including his motives and reasoning. We see how his past has shaped him and brought him to this point in his life. The subject matter can be tough to work through at times, although there is humor sprinkled throughout.
There’s also a subtext, about society and how it treats and regards unwanted children. The author also touches on prejudices between cultures and classes of people.
Mabanckou’s great accomplishment is actually making a would-be killer relatable. Gregoire feels real and believable, so much so that I was worried about him after the story ended.
This is an absolute must read for lovers of hardboiled noir.