Book Review | Tram 83 by Fiston Mwanza Mujila

tram 83 english book coverTranslated from the French, Tram 83 is Mwanza Mujila’s first novel and takes place in an unnamed African city-state resembling the DR Congo. Two middle-aged men, old friends Requiem and Lucien are the main characters. Requiem is heavily involved in illegal activity and Lucien, with a history degree, is trying to make it as a writer. Their meetings take place mainly in Tram 83, a seedy night club, influenced by surrounding mines, crooked statesmen, student activists, tourists and prostitutes.

Mwanza Mujila’s nonconforming writing style adds flavor to the text, but also at times makes it difficult to understand who’s saying what. Perhaps limiting the aliases and one line repetitions would have served this same purpose. The author has a remarkable talent for humanizing objects and concepts, through detailed descriptions. It was also refreshing for the character of the writer to stick to his ethical guns, despite having an unpopular and uncommon view in his surroundings. This book took nearly 30 pages to become interesting and is not recommended for those sensitive to sexuality in literature. Read the NPR article about the book and if you’re interested, check it out from a library near you.

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About amy de simone
Amy is an active volunteer, traveler and photographer. She is interested in art, libraries, museums and nonprofits. She holds an M.A. in Library & Information Studies and a B.A. in Italian Language & Literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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