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Broken Glass

3.64  ·  Rating Details  ·  465 Ratings  ·  72 Reviews
The history of 'Credit Gone Away', a squalid Congolese bar, is related by one of its most loyal customers, Broken Glass, who has been commissioned by its owner to set down an account of the characters who frequent it. Broken Glass himself is a disgraced alcoholic school teacher with a love of French language and literature which he has largely failed to communicate to his ...more
Paperback, 165 pages
Published May 5th 2009 by Serpent's Tail (first published January 7th 2005)
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Aug 22, 2013 Kinga rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When on our way back from Międzyzdroje we had to wait in an enormous queue to buy our train tickets, my sister volunteered to take first turn while the rest of us sat on benches in the shadow. When my friend went to relieve her, my sister acted mysteriously, she insisted she didn’t mind queuing and we could just go relax and leave her to it. It was only when we were on the train when she told us that she was eavesdropping on a group of friends who were discussing dramatic events of the night bef ...more
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
this is a novella written entirely without periods, or capital letters at the beginnings of sentences, because there aren’t any beginnings, an entire 10-page chapter can consist entirely of one run-on sentence, which makes it hard to put down because you can’t find a stopping place, though fortunately there are occasional line breaks, like maybe once every few pages

anyway this guy, Broken Glass, spends all his time at the bar, having drunk himself out of a job and a wife, and the bar owner convi
Alain Mabanckou already knows most of what’s wrong with his book. After a hundred and twenty odd pages of his desultory jabbering he lays out, nice and clean:

“I’d write down words as they came to me, I’d begin awkwardly and I’d finish as awkwardly as I’d begun, and to hell with pure reason, and method, and phonetics, and prose, and in this shit-poor language of mine things would seem clear in my head but come out wrong, and the words to say it wouldn’t come easy, so it would be a choice between
Nino Frewat
This book must be read in French. I read a couple of excerpts translated into English, and I honestly felt the rhythm, the flow of the words, the repetition of expressions, and most certainly the humor of the book lacked their charm.
Yes, it feels like the book of an erudite, but that's precisely what the author is; one would not deride Eco for writing the way he does.
At the same time, I was intrigued with this blurring of the truth; can we trust the narrator? Are the "heroes" of his stories vi
This is a quirky book with lots of clever pivots to literature, arts, politics, popular culture, religion, etc. In fact the best parts of the book are when Mabanckou goes off on a jazz like riff where he ties in unrelated things in clever ways. Here's a description of a fist fight between Broken and another damaged patron, other customers gather to witness, “….because I was Mohammed Ali and he was George Foreman, and I was floating like a butterfly, I was stinging like a bee, and he was a flat f ...more
Eyad alamin
Aug 23, 2016 Eyad alamin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
لابد للموقع أن يوفر نجمة سادسة لمثل هذه الحالات الطارئة، ممتعة جداً، آلان كاتب ساخر بدرجة الامتياز. أتمنى أن تعاد ترجمتها مرة أخرى بطريقة أفضل.
Feb 10, 2015 Ken rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed reading this book. The style might require some getting used to, in the first couple of pages, but once you realise the unusual position of the narrator, it becomes quite the thrill. What I found particularly impressive - besides the style - are the clever instances of intertextuality weaved throughout the book. They appear unexpectedly, and I am going to read through the book again just to see how many I missed.
I would recommend it for anyone who is tired of the same old themes and st
Jennifer Solheim
I finished working through Broken Glass with students in my Francophone Literacy Narratives course yesterday. This is a wonderful translation, and my students were completely taken with the story and Broken Glass's voice. I'd be happy to share discussion questions if anyone is interested - let me know!
أحمد نفادي
بداية انا من الذين معهم مشكلة في سلسلة الجوائز ،، كثيرة هي الروايات التي دمرت تماما لي بسبب تلك السلسلة وترجماتها ، وقليلة هي الترجمات التي تستحق الاشادة ، لعل منها إلى حد كبير تلك الترجمة .

الرواية رائعة ، سينيمائية بامتياز ، أحسست بها كأنها فيلم أقرب منها للرواية بل إني بحثت عنها لعلي أجدها ممثلة ولكني لم أجد أي نتائج للاسف.

المجتمع الافريقي مجهول إلى حد كبير لا نعرف عنه إلا في مباريات المنتخب أما عدا ذلك فقليلا ما نبحث ، استهوتنا اوربا فنسينا جيراننا الجديرين بالالتفات ولو قليلا إليهم .

Paul Fulcher
Mar 23, 2016 Paul Fulcher rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
"When I asked why he was so set on this notebook, he said he didn’t want Credit Gone West just to vanish one day, and added that people in this country have no sense of the importance of memory, that the days when grandmothers reminisced from their deathbeds was gone now, this is the age of the written word, that’s all that’s left, the spoken word’s just black smoke, wild cat’s piss, the boss of Credit Gone West doesn’t like ready-made phrases like ‘in Africa, when an old person dies, a library ...more
Harry Rutherford
Broken Glass is a novel from the Congo (aka the Republic of the Congo aka Congo-Brazzaville; i.e. the smaller of the two Congos, not the one which used to be Zaire). It was translated from French by Helen Stevenson.

It takes the form of the notebook jottings of the customer at a bar called Credit Gone West. Perhaps rather than try to explain:

let’s say the boss of the bar Credit Gone West gave me this notebook to fill, he’s convinced that I – Broken Glass – can turn out a book, because one day, fo
Aug 13, 2012 Sylvia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is world literature! How I love this book and its story about Verre Cassé. The way it is written, without any punctation or capitals is weird in the beginning, but the longer you read the more you understand, that this is part of the story. The suppose writer, Verre Cassé, has some eduction - he even has been an instructor at a school, before he became addicted to alcohol - he is known as an intellectual.
The style is wonderful, with so many reference to world literature, which is a advance
Lisa Hayden Espenschade
Jul 08, 2010 Lisa Hayden Espenschade rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone with a sense of humor
Recommended to Lisa by: Soft Skull
A tragicomic novel narrated by a wine-drinking bar patron named Broken Glass who hangs out at a place called Credit Gone West, whose proprietor, Stubborn Snail gives Broken Glass a notebook in which to record stories about the people around them. I'm tempted to keep that sentence going because that's how Mabanckou writes the book: there are no periods, and some paragraphs go for pages. Somehow, it worked for me, probably because of Broken Glass's elements of carnival and the grotesque. I particu ...more
Jun 19, 2016 Karen rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel-the-world
I really liked this book. It was funny, it was tragic, but most of all it was insightful.

Broken Glass is a fixture in a Congolese bar, almost to the point that it is his home. The owner tells him that he should write a book, and gives him a notebook to encourage him. Word gets around that Broken Glass is writing a book, and everyone wants to tell him their story, so that they will be in the book.

To be honest, this will not be a book for everyone, because it is gritty. I loved the literary and
Noura Alenizy
Feb 20, 2016 Noura Alenizy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
حبيتها لأنها نابضة بالحياة مع كمية سخرية واقعية وحقيقية .. رواية تخليك تفكر بحياتك ونعم رب العالمين وتحمد ربك على ظروفك المستقرة وانك انولدت بمجتمع غير مجتمعهم وتخليك تقدرهم أكثر وأكثر وان قارة أفريقيا لها خصوصية جميلة بالرغم من كل ظروفها الصعبة ..رواية تخليك تقدر الحضارة الصح والأدب والفن وقدرته ان يرتقي بالمجتمع والناس وكالعادة يكرهنا بكل أساليب الإضطهاد وان ممكن نحصلها حتى من أقرب الناس لنا وهشاشة المجتمع الي مايكفيه انك تكون مسالم فيه فقط ويطلب منك بكل عقامة ومرض انك تمشي على مقاييس وأهواء و ...more
Nati Amitai
Jun 29, 2013 Nati Amitai rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: french
Mildly interesting, but the excess of literary references and descriptions of bodily functions (I didn't actually mind the lack of punctuation) gives it all a self-important and somehow at the same time cutesy air that is anti-charming. It all, unfortunately, doesn't seem to go anywhere in particular, but it's lively enough.
Jul 01, 2015 Akvile rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Je lis en français pour apprendre la langue et ce livre m'a donné une bonne opportunité d'apprécier la beauté du français parlé, vivant! J'ai beaucoup aimé ces références interminables, le flot des mots, des idées en général. J'ai lu et relu beaucoup d'extraits juste pour la gourmandise. Et même avec mes limitations de compréhension, je suis arrivé à voir le talent extraordinaire de l'auteur pour créer des mondes, des univers avec ses paroles. En plus, le livre est très engageant et se lit facil ...more
This is a dark, strange book, full of literary allusions. Broken Glass has been invited to tell the history of Credit Gone West, a bar (in Congo, Africa). The story necessarily includes not only the life of Broken Glass, but also bits and pieces of the lives of its many patrons. Broken Glass has been handed a blank notebook in which to relate this history, which his boss then hopes to turn into a book. The misadventures of these patrons make for entertaining, if ribald, political, complex, and o ...more
Fernando Buzi
Aug 29, 2015 Fernando Buzi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Confusing at first, since there are no full stops in the book. "Only commas and more commas" as one of the characters put it, near the end of the book. But, once you get used to it, the book then flows.

It was also quite disturbing, but only because it was well written. Disturbing in the sense that it describes lives and habits that I personally do not condone, and reading the book was almost like spending a couple of days immersed in such lives and habits.

It is not as comic as advertised (not th
Nov 13, 2014 Will rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"I've read whatever I've been able to get my hands on, and it's obvious no one person could ever read everything, life's not long enough for that, and I've also noticed that there are far more people who talk about bad books than there are people who actually read and talk about real ones, and the people who talk about bad books ate merciless about the other ones, well they can just go and get lost, there's more to this world than their little navels, that's not my problem, this book isn't about ...more
Tunde Oyebode
May 23, 2016 Tunde Oyebode rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes its absolutely annoying reading a book that avoids normal conventions and forms in Writing, like full stops. But in this book I felt there was a need for that, infact I felt it helped personify the kind of character broken glass is. A lowlife. A lowlife with a talent for telling stories. It helped make the read seem casual, as if he were sat next to you, broken glass himself, in his favourite bar, listening to his drunken rambles about himself and the ridiculous people that desperately ...more
Alfredo Scognamiglio
Ho letto la recensione di Fabio Geda su "La stampa" che mi ha incuriosito.
L'autore è considerato uno dei migliori scrittori dell'Africa nera contemporanea, nato nel Congo (quello piccolo : Brazzaville) e poi cresciuto in Francia e Stati Uniti, e in questo che è il suo romanzo più noto ci apre uno spaccato di quotidianità africana in una periferia urbana fortemente segnata da miserie di ogni tipo.
Il pretesto è che il protagonista Pezzi di vetro, ex insegnante ormai divenuto ubriacone impenitente,
Mar 04, 2013 Paula rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: french, fiction
Set in Congo-Brazzaville (homeland of the author), all the non-action takes place in a bar entitled Le Credit a voyage (Credit has gone on a journey), where the bar owner L'Escargot Entete (the stubborn snail) gives a blank notebook to the bar's longest term habitue, Verre Casse (broken glass). He demands that Verre Casse write down the story of the bar, that is, the stories told to him by other patrons of the bar, those, like the man who wears Pampers & the man who once lived in France & ...more
Oct 23, 2013 Princess rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-readable
written in a distinct style, poetic, and like a song, with little regard for periods, or question marks, or exclamation marks; it tells the stories of regulars at a bar called Credit Gone West - shocking, lewd, tragic, and sometimes comic stories; it tells also the stories of Broken Glass, the man who writes the regulars' stories - his own stories are largely broken, and sad, but his musings are high brow; there are many philosophical, historical, and literary references; through Broken Glass' e ...more
"Verre Casse" is an award-winning contemporary book about the patrons of a Congolese bar. The narrator tells the life stories of the other barflies.

I read this book because of the glowing article in the Economist (July 7, 2011). Admittedly, not a traditional source for literature recommendations.

This book won "Le Prix des cinq continents de la Francophonie consacre un roman d’un écrivain témoignant d’une expérience culturelle spécifique enrichissant la langue française". The novel has unique lan
If there's one word with which this book can be described, it's "inconsequential".
The rambling, fullstop-free style of the book seemed like a good idea, but gets old quickly. The author doesn't really seem to know what to do with it - it's just there, and doesn't really convey that feel of a drunkard's stream-of-conciousness.
The book itself is about nothing, really. It's a collection of stories which have very little in common, and mostly, they are highly unpleasant and primitive, or just plain
Aug 26, 2011 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: translations
The author's voice is authentic and his character is likewise rings true. The story is tiresome, because nothing changes. It is the rant of a peter-pan man and the recollection of other similar men, who blame the women partners in their lives for their current decrepit condition and their personal demons--be it alcohol or sexual predation or irrational temperment. Some of these men had a rather charmed life, education abroad et cetera, prior to their fall.

Although this story takes place in the
Nov 16, 2013 LDB rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was excited to read this book about a bar patron who fills a notebook with stories from the bar and its patrons. After all, I do like spending time in bars and spend a lot of time in Africa. But, the book was a lot darker and more cynical than I expected. The stories were of sad tales that were a bit over the top and that left one wondering whether these people ended up in these circumstances from being bad or through bad luck.

The main character's (Verre Casse/Broken Glass) story takes over a
[Around the World challenge: Republic of the Congo] J'ai vraiment eu du mal à me faire à la ponctuation, ou plutôt à son absence puisqu'il n'y a pas un seul point dans ce livre. J'ai du mal à m'accrocher dès que l'on sort de la mise en forme classique. Les histoires sont sympas à lire et le catalogue de références littéraires plus ou moins discrètes permettent de secouer le lecteur quand il commence à s'embourber dans ce flot monotone. En bref, sympa mais je suis restée insensible à ce petit tru ...more
Oct 30, 2014 Rousse rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Au début j'ai eu du mal à accrocher, à la fois à cause de l'écriture très particulière et un peu étouffante, et parce que je ne trouvais pas les personnages attachants du tout. Mais justement, dès que le narrateur a commencé à se dévoiler, je l'ai trouvé de plus en plus intéressant, et la fin était vraiment très belle. De très jolies formules tout au long du livre.
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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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“it would be fairer to say I have traveled widely, without ever leaving my own native soil, I've traveled, one might say, through literature, each time I've opened a book the pages echoed with a noise like the dip of a paddle in midstream, and throughout my odyssey I never crossed a single border, and so never had to produce a passport, I'd just pick a destination at random, setting my prejudices firmly to one side, and be welcomed with open arms in places swarming with weird and wonderful characters” 0 likes
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