Saturday, September 19, 2015

Review: TRAM 83

My review of Tram 83 (Deep Vellum Publishinrg) by Fiston Mwanza Mujila (translated from the French by Roland Glasser) was published by The Rumpus! From the review:

Part The Day of the Locust, part Saturday Night Fever, and part Guns N’ Roses’ “Welcome to the Jungle,” Tram 83’s pervasive nihilism threatens to overwhelm or become monotonous, and therefore it successfully, viscerally conveys this anarchic, disintegrating society. If you begin to think, “Well the hell with it,” just reading it, what must it feel like to live it? Cognitive dissonance is inescapable when farce and tragedy become your daily reality. 
The unnamed narrator relates the story with a world-weary, contemptuous humor about what he considers to be Lucien’s pointless affectations of conscience. This attitude begins as droll amusement but gradually morphs into outrage at Lucien’s “ungratefulness”—his impractical attempts to resist the ubiquitous local corruption. Lucien manages to insult virtually everyone by daring to be different and attempting to better himself and others. A “show-off,” Lucien has committed the crime of setting himself apart in the old (false) dichotomy between street smarts and pointy-headed professors. “I just didn’t imagine there were any brainy people left in the City-State. This country’s been knocked flat, it’s all got to be rebuilt: roads, schools, hospitals, the station, even men. We need doctors, mechanics, carpenters, and garbage collectors, but certainly not dreamers!” Cynical and ambitious, Requiem has no patience for Lucien’s writer’s sensibilities and literary pretensions.
To read the entire review please click here.

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