“Heartbreaking… Black Moses abounds with moments of black humor but the levity is balanced by Mabanckou’s portrait of a dysfunctional society rent by corruption.”


This is a short novel of 197 pages that was long listed last year for the Mann-Booker International Prize.

It is the story of a young orphan boy born in the Congo who was left as a small child at an orphanage run by a Catholic priest. The priest named him Moses because his birth name was too long to use.

The novel begins with Moses and the other orphans witnessing the takeover by the new socialist government of their home and the priest disappearing from their lives. Big changes are made and Moses must deal with a set of twins who intimidate the other children into submission besides the new men who have set new rules and now run the place.

Moses is a smart boy and will use his own means to stay safe from the twins, eventually escape the home, and begin a life where he will begin to better himself by befriending people who will help him in his life. But in the Congo, things can change very quickly, and when they do, the results will change Moses life forever.

The emotions generated by this story will run from sad to funny and back again, until Moses like comes full circle, leaving a satisfying conclusion to the novel.



Reviewed by:

Richard Franco

Added 25th September 2017

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Richard Franco