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African Psycho

3.34  ·  Rating Details  ·  304 Ratings  ·  47 Reviews
Its title recalls Bret Easton Ellis’s infamous book, but while Ellis’s narrator was a blank slate, African Psycho’s protagonist is a quivering mass of lies, neuroses, and relentless internal chatter. Gregoire Nakobomayo, a petty criminal, has decided to kill his girlfriend Germaine. He’s planned the crime for some time, but still, the act of murder requires a bit of psycho ...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published January 23rd 2007 by Soft Skull Press, Transition Books (first published September 1st 2003)
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Books Set in the Congo
17th out of 124 books — 107 voters
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Best by African Authors
145th out of 300 books — 134 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 886)
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Dec 24, 2008 John rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: readers who like a laugh, a shock, a challenge
Recommended to John by: was sent it for review
For Christmas, why not a man who can murder as an act of vanity? As self-expression! The narrator of AFRICAN PSYCHO claims to share that pathology: “to kill at last, crush …, I was going to be somebody.” Such a lunatic yearning is familiar in fiction, a trick that goes back at least to Dostoevsky. The drama’s in the waffling: will he or won’t he? But Mabanckou (a Congolese who's won prizes in France), discovers a fascinating new way to hang you up on those tenterhooks. His novel presents no gloo ...more
Mar 06, 2009 Leanne rated it it was amazing
I identified with the main character with his macabre thoughts about people that he felt "insulted" him. I think we are all capable of having thoughts of killing someone but we draw the line at actually following through. Mabanckou take us through the thought process and preparation of a would be young serial killer in Africa. I didn't think that I would enjoy the supernatural aspect of the book (the main character's mentor is deceased and communicates with him from beyond) but it fit right in a ...more
Jul 17, 2015 Marlowe rated it liked it
Gregoire Nakobomayo is an aspiring serial killer. He idolizes Angoualima, a particularly brutal serial killer who had been on the prowl in Gregoire’s youth, and he has promised to Angoualima that he will be a good disciple, that he will kill.

The story is set in a first person rambling style, allowing Gregoire to take us through his life (a “pick-up child,” he was abandoned at birth and raised in a series of foster homes), his “petty” criminal activities, and, ultimately, his plans to murder Germ
Jan 15, 2015 Prachi rated it liked it
I vacillated between giving this book 3 or 4 stars. I happened to grab the original French novel after I'd finished the English version. Upon reading the first 20 pages of the French version, I can honestly say that THAT novel was a solid 4. This English translation, on the other hand, is a 3.5, or maybe just a 3. Something about the protagonist's awkward, humorous tone just seems to have been lost in translation. His neuroses and unreliability don't quite come off as well as they should in the ...more
A slim novel with a rather unique narrator--angry, frustrated, misogynistic, and delusional. Our dear Gregoire aspires to commit murder like his idol, a serial killer named Angoualima. This is as much about the struggle of conscience as it is the frustration of the individual in relation to society.
Alex Sarll
Synchronicity: after extracting this from my shelves, but before beginning it, I read a Christopher Hitchens review which mentioned that vicious, asinine line of Saul Bellow's, enquiring where the Zulu Tolstoy was. Well, for all that it's founded on bullshit, I think you can still answer that in Chinua Achebe we have the Igbo Lermontov - and now, here is Congo-Brazzaville's John Niven. That may be ever so slightly harsh; odd moments here recall sub-par Rimbaud, while Kill Your Friends was never ...more
Jan 31, 2015 Damon rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, favourites
Good Stuff.
Apr 11, 2016 Tony rated it it was ok
I picked this up hoping for an interesting cross-cultural version of something akin to Bret Easton Ellis's American Psycho. Alas, although this was originally published in France two years after the controversial American novel, the author has said in various interviews that although he loved Ellis's book, the only similarity lies in the title. Here, we meet an orphaned street child who has grown up to become an auto mechanic in an unnamed African country clearly based on the author's native Con ...more
Courtney Williams
Sep 10, 2015 Courtney Williams rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think I first came across this book in a discount book shop near the Old Vic and was intrigued by the cover and the title. I've not read or watched "American Psycho", but I'd be interested to see how it compares to this.

Rather foolishly I've put off writing this review for two and a half months and didn't make any notes, so I'm sure I'll miss out plenty of salient points. However, this book did make an impression on me mostly because I've never read anything quite like it. It's a quick read an
Nov 18, 2014 Melinda rated it liked it
Gregoire Nakobomayo with a decayed childhood as a ‘picked up’ child, abandoned. Gregorio swears to committing the ultimate atrocity – murder, the idea of this heinous act obsesses him.

There are subtle voices besides the neurotic ramblings of Gregoire. Anger, poverty, corruption,racial tension, deception found in Central Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa. The direct nature of the language forces the reader to explore the rooted issues of Africa and the narratives protagonist. A compelling read on var
May 19, 2009 Karen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
When AFRICAN PSYCHO by Alain Mabanckou arrived in my book stack, I really wasn't sure what to expect. I've finished it now and I'm still not sure what I got. But I do remember it!

Gregoire is a neglected child - an ugly child - an anonymous child - abandoned by his parents - he's raised in an increasingly haphazard manner really by himself mostly. He vows he will be different. He will be remembered. He vows to escape his humdrum reality and commit a spectacular murder. Just like his idol - the se
May 19, 2009 Karen rated it liked it
When AFRICAN PSYCHO by Alain Mabanckou arrived in my book stack, I really wasn't sure what to expect. I've finished it now and I'm still not sure what I got. But I do remember it!

Gregoire is a neglected child - an ugly child - an anonymous child - abandoned by his parents - he's raised in an increasingly haphazard manner really by himself mostly. He vows he will be different. He will be remembered. He vows to escape his humdrum reality and commit a spectacular murder. Just like his idol - the se
Apr 27, 2013 M M rated it really liked it
Alain Mabanckou’s African Psycho is a dark, disturbing, frequently funny diatribe against society by a superb villain, a square-headed individual in a country very like Mabanckou’s native Congo. Gregoire is a mass of neuroses, a liar obsessed with the country’s only serial-killer, Angoualima, whose exploits he lovingly recounts, and whose approval he seeks in his own acts of violence. Gregoire is determined to kill his girlfriend, Germaine, and his preparations – both physical and mental – for t ...more
May 06, 2013 Bjorn rated it liked it
Taking both its title and its central storyline from Bret Easton Ellis' insert-adjective-of-your-choice-here American Psycho (well, I liked it), Alain Mabanckou's African Psycho is a succinct, disturbing but also frustrating read. Succinct in that it gets in, throws its punches in merely 145 pages, and gets out again before it overstays its welcome. Disturbing in both its subject matter and the hinted-at society it takes place in. And frustrating in the way it's presented.

If Ellis' serial killer
Brent Legault
Dec 18, 2007 Brent Legault rated it liked it
Recommends it for: dreamy-eyed killers, part-time martyrs
The comparisons of this book with American Psycho are baffling to me. Other than the title, I see no resemblance. And stylistically, they are seperated by a lot more than a mere mer or a fricking fric. One might as well try to compare Franzen's The Corrections with Bernhard's Correction.

I like this novel. I like what Mabanckou has done here. My favorite heroes are the incompetent ones. The sad sacks. The blundering boobs. There were times while reading this that I was reminded of Bunuel's fi
African Psycho concerns a would-be serial killer, Gregoire Nakobomayo, and the spiritual relationship he has developed with his phantom mentor, a far more accomplished serial killer, Angoualima.

The title recalls Bret Easton Ellis' infamous book but while Ellis' narrator was blank, and the book eschewed any kind of psychological exposition, accepting pure psychosis as the bottomline, Mabanckou's protagonist is all psychology and relentless internal chatter and prevarication. The act of deciding t
Aug 19, 2009 Stephanie rated it did not like it
A rant, monologue, and in the novel’s own words “blah, blah, blah” by a wanna-be serial killer who never kills. Set in the Ghanaian slum of “He-Who-Drinks-Water-Is-An-Idiot”, the narrator Gregroire tells us in great detail about his admiration for serial killer Angoualima, who in fact does kill, rapes and does strange things with cigars. Gregroire wants to emulate Angoualima’s bad deeds, get known by his countrymen and trump the police and media. The author may have an agenda here and I don’t kn ...more
Da un'idea interessante - seguire il cammino di un uomo dai suoi primi crimini al salto di qualità che lo porterebbe a diventare un serial killer, seguendo le orme di un assassino leggendario - vien fuori un libro grottesco e delirante. Il protagonista, che ambisce agli onori della cronaca nera, è impacciato, ridicolo e non desta alcuna simpatia. Il finale, prevedibile, non aggiunge nulla a una storia che di giallo ha molto poco, che non coinvolge, anzi risulta noiosa e irritante.
Liz Dom
Feb 05, 2016 Liz Dom rated it liked it
An uneasy read which taps into the mind of a would-be serial killer and his aggression and disgust towards society.

While interesting and horrifying, the ending left me unsatisfied as you're lead to believe one thing the entire book through which changes in the final chapter. Some would say it's a "plot twist" but I didn't appreciate this abrupt change.
Seyi Onabanjo
A bit disappointing as what seems like a great premise and worthy characters were simply not given the treatment needed to create anything like a memorable story. Narrative voice varies but in defense becomes really strong towards the end.
Katya Thomas
Feb 10, 2016 Katya Thomas rated it it was amazing
I've read this book a couple of times. It is perhaps not for everyone, but I like this unreliable narrator. This author is extremely talented, and the book is completely fresh and genre defying.
Apr 28, 2010 Francesca rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Those who enjoy disturbing books about foreign serial killers who talk to imaginary serial killers.
I read this book fall semester for fun. I found it on what we call "The Free Table" and enjoyed it from cover to cover. I'm currently rereading it because of it's dark and disturbing content which I thoroughly enjoy. It's a great read if you enjoy books that have been translated. English is not a very beautiful language,so often times when a language such as French gets turned over, the beautiful or truly disturbing meaning can get lost. In this book it ends up being funny and very perverse whic ...more
Jan 26, 2009 Matthew rated it it was ok
I wanted to love this- a novella about a wannabe psychopath in Africa sounds so original and strange to a Western ear. And of course, I'm sure I missed the cultural references, such as the meaning behind strange city and street names throughout the book. There was plenty of simple social commentary but the main character was such a weirdo, I missed most of the humor and all of the commentary. So many great books have withstood the inevitable communication failures of translation, that I can't fa ...more
Apr 01, 2009 Wyatt rated it it was ok
Man, I'm just glad to find something noteworthy that wasn't Achebe or Soyenka. As awful and reductionist as that sounds, ask your average English major to list more than three African authors that they read in class. Noteworthy, yes. Did I like it?...not particularly. Perhaps it was a mediocre translation, or perhaps I wanted it to come close to Easton Ellis's brilliance (and thereforccould only be slightly disappointed).
Jan 20, 2016 Justin rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
This interesting story with African-"isms" does mix dialog with dreams, internal desire and frustrated experience, vulgarity with grace.

Along the way we follow one young man determined to become a killer in the likes of his countries most famous of psychopaths.

Ending with a unique lesson that hopefully steers clear our narrator from future crimes.
Mar 13, 2011 Alcqueline rated it did not like it
I actually have very mixed emotions about this book. I have two concerns about this weird book. The first concern is that I gave it a high rating for the author having the nerve to write it. The second concern is that it really would have been better off not wasting my time reading it. I made a poor decision and will donate it to the library.
Leigh Cross
Jul 09, 2009 Leigh Cross rated it liked it
Interesting, but not anything particularly brilliant or original. The narrator is a combination of Robert Browning's Duke ("My Last Duchess") and Anthony Burgess' Alex (A Clockwork Orange), and the book leaves some of its major questions open-ended which invites a revisiting. A quick, entertaining read.
Rob Bockman
Sep 18, 2012 Rob Bockman rated it liked it
An elaborate and entertaining joke, in the vein of Phillip Roth. Deals with impotence and the mores of morbidity through a narrator with an unreliable agenda and misplaced sense of purpose. Surprisingly accessible, albeit frequently off-putting--far, far more depiction than endorsement.
Sep 09, 2011 Marcus rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not one star because I thought it was quite a clever ending but generally I felt that this might have simply been the subject of bad translation. If you can read French I would recommend getting that version. An Afro-Francophonic 'Taxi Driver'.
Nov 28, 2008 Alice rated it it was ok
This was an interesting book, but I couldn't finish it. This says a lot because I love psychological/crime books and it's a very short book as well. Maybe I'll give it another try some other time.
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Alain Mabanckou was born in 1966 in Congo-Brazzaville (French Congo). He currently resides in Los Angeles, where he teaches literature at UCLA, having previously spent four years at the University of Michigan. Mabanckou will be a Fellow in the Humanities Council at Princeton University in 2007-2008. One of Francophone Africa's most prolific contemporary writers, he is the author of six volumes of ...more
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