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African Psycho

3.35 of 5 stars 3.35  ·  rating details  ·  248 ratings  ·  41 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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Blood River by Tim ButcherKing Leopold's Ghost by Adam HochschildThe Poisonwood Bible by Barbara KingsolverDancing in the Glory of Monsters by Jason  StearnsHeart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
Books Set in the Congo
16th out of 121 books — 88 voters
Blood River by Tim ButcherThings Fall Apart by Chinua AchebeThe Liquidator by Iain ParkeLong Walk to Freedom by Nelson MandelaThe Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
Books about AFRICA or by AFRICAN AUTHORS
294th out of 392 books — 207 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 660)
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John
Dec 24, 2008 John rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
Leanne
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
Prachi Singh
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
Marc
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
Damon
Good Stuff.
Melinda
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
...more
Karen
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
...more
Karen
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
...more
M M
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
Bjorn
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
...more
Brent Legault
Dec 18, 2007 Brent Legault rated it 3 of 5 stars
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
...more
Richard
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
...more
Stephanie
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
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.
Francesca
Apr 28, 2010 Francesca rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
Matthew
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
Wyatt
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).
Justin
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.
Alcqueline
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
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
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.
Marcus
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'.
Alice
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.
Chelsea Szendi
It was witty to transplant the gruesome parody of dead-end late capitalism in "American Psycho" onto the developing world, where our would-be rapist/killer finds himself impotent and unthreatening.
Marceline
La langue de Mabanckou reste très originale, dépouillée mais pleine de force. Les mots vont à l'essentiel, accompagnant dans sa logique implacable un apprenti meurtrier très zélé mais peu doué.
Tara
This book is basically a man's stream of thought. He is a very disturbed man yet somehow through his rambling readers gain thoughtful insight into the society in the French Congo and the world.
Ashley
I liked this book a lot, but it is certainly not an uplifting read. Although, having read this and Mabankou's Broken Glass does make me appreciate how pleasant my life is!
Nina Chachu
Better than I had expected, and not as gory really. More or less someone who aspired to be "bad" but just didn't quite make it, except in his imagination!
J'pkorir Rose
this has been one of the hardest books to read, Nothing is worse than that, reading a translated book. I am sure it was quite witty in French.
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Great African Reads: May/June: Rep of the Congo | "African Psycho" 65 53 Jun 30, 2010 05:43PM  
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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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