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Life and a Half

3.85  ·  Rating Details ·  75 Ratings  ·  10 Reviews
Listed as one of the 100 best books on Africa, Life and a Half was Sony Labou Tansi's response to the death of close friends during a bloody military and political crackdown in Congo. The novel takes place in an imaginary African country run by the latest in a series of cannibalistic dictators who has captured Martial, the leader of the opposition, and his family. Though s ...more
Paperback, 150 pages
Published February 1st 2011 by Indiana University Press (first published 1979)
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Aug 30, 2011 Tuck rated it really liked it
Shelves: south-africa
turned back to his Four Seasons meat, which he cut and ate with the same bloody knife." ?

a gruesome fiction of what the big man gets up to in africa. he takes, he stuffs his face, he fucks, he kills. he gives to his family and friends, he protects the weak. a fascinating novel written is vernacular, but rendered in english. a must read for modern afica lit philes.
Feb 01, 2014 Jo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The subject matter of the book means that it is a tough read at times, but it skillfully captures the link between tyranny and absurdity. Beautifully written, wide in scope and quite possibly brilliant.

Note that the violence in this book has an unreality to it but is also very extreme. If you can make it through the first chapter you will likely be ok for the rest; in my opinion, it is worth it.
Harry Rutherford
May 13, 2013 Harry Rutherford rated it really liked it
This is my book from the Democratic Republic of the Congo for the Read The World challenge (which was still the Belgian Congo when Sony Lab’ou Tansi was born and was Zaire when he died).

It is yet another book about dictatorship — a sequence of dictatorships in this case, each as violent and capricious as the one before. From the very first scene, in which a man refuses to die even as his body is hacked into ever smaller pieces in front of his family, it is unremittingly brutal and full of imposs
May 23, 2012 Val rated it really liked it
Shelves: world-tour
Sony Lab'ou Tansi was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, when it was a Belgian colony. His family moved to the Republic of the Congo (former French colony) where he learnt French and English. He became a teacher, a government administrator and ran a theatre group. He was committed to democracy and campaigned for it through his work, but it was under the democratically elected government that he himself suffered restrictions.

This short novel is one of many plays, screenplays, novels, lette
Feb 15, 2013 Yamini rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written, captivating, but also so, so disturbing. I'm not an easy person to gross out, so don't read this if you have a weak stomach. I loved it but not without having to take frequent breaks from the gruesome descriptions of eating flesh. At the same time, however, a very powerful way to deal with Labou Tansi's issues with the Congo.
Oct 16, 2016 Max rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very strong, beautiful, cruel, horrible and fascinating as only black Africa can be. Not for everybody. It doesn't happen me very often to read two times a book, but this one is worth. Artaud? Bataille? Alfred Jarry? What else? A tropical nightmare.
Mar 16, 2016 Florian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Une lecture exigeante, mais méritante. Il s'agit d'un roman satirique sur une dictature dynastique en Afrique et la lutte contre le régime par des moyens parfois très décalés. Le livre est une critique forte du système néocolonialiste.
Dec 02, 2014 Lunga rated it really liked it
Janet Alain
Aug 16, 2016 Janet Alain rated it really liked it
In memory of Sony who shared with me his vision of Africa, while he was in residence at the La Napoule Art Foundation (chateau Henry Clews).
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Sony Lab'ou Tansi (5 July 1947 - 14 June 1995), born Marcel Ntsoni, was a Congolese novelist, short-story writer, playwright, and poet. Though he was only 47 when he died, Tansi remains one of the most prolific African writers and the most internationally renowned practitioner of the "New African Writing." His novel The Antipeople won the Grand Prix Littéraire d'Afrique Noire. In his later years, ...more
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