Title: Tram 83
Author: Fiston Mwanza Mujila
Publisher: Deep Vellum Publishing
Country: Democratic Republic of Congo
Tram 83, a nightclub nestled amidst the bustling streets of Kinshasa, is a country onto itself, “the only place on earth where you could hang yourself, defecate, blaspheme, fall into infatuation, and thieve without regard to prying eyes.”
Lucien, an idealistic young writer, does most of these in his quest to survive the eclectic mix of “for-profit tourists, the miners, the itinerant Pentecostal preachers and the high priests of the Second Republic.” His friend Requiem, meanwhile, navigates an underworld of violent and shady deals.
Mwanza Mujila’s novel revolves around the liaisons of ‘Baby Chicks’ and the powerful: In Tram 83, money rules everything and power is the ultimate elixir. The writing is sharp, funny and insightful without ever becoming preachy.
Longlisted for The Man Booker Prize International and winner of The English Pen Award, few novels have burst onto the African literature scene so viscerally as Tram 83.
Words: Alex Macbeth