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the Complete Review
the complete review - autobiographical


The Lights of Pointe-Noire

Alain Mabanckou

[an overview of the reviews and critical reactions]

general information | review summaries | review and reception notes | links | about the author

To purchase The Lights of Pointe-Noire

Title: The Lights of Pointe-Noire
Author: Alain Mabanckou
Genre: Memoir
Written: 2013 (Eng. 2015)
Length: 202 pages
Original in: French
Availability: The Lights of Pointe-Noire - US
The Lights of Pointe-Noire - UK
The Lights of Pointe-Noire - Canada
Lumières de Pointe-Noire - Canada
The Lights of Pointe-Noire - India
Lumières de Pointe-Noire - France
Le luci di Pointe-Noire - Italia
  • A Memoir
  • French title: Lumières de Pointe-Noire
  • Translated by Helen Stevenson

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Why we haven't reviewed it yet:

It's fine, but it's a memoir ....

Chances that we will review it:


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Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The Economist . 6/6/2015 .
Financial Times . 15/5/2015 Suzi Feay
The Independent . 14/5/2015 Boyd Tonkin
New Statesman . 28/5/2015 Russell Williams
TLS . 21/10/2015 James Copnall
World Lit. Today . 5-8/2015 Adele King

  From the Reviews:
  • "The authorís real achievement is to capture a universal experience, one ever more common in the age of mass migration: what it means to come home after a long absence. (...) Few books about Africa will find it easier to attract readers far away." - The Economist

  • "(T)he account is not linear but organic and spiralling, as Mabanckou ranges over his past according to whatever stimulus confronts him. (...) Sparklingly translated, this compact and artful memoir illustrates the universality of the maxim: you really canít go home again." - Suzi Feay, Financial Times

  • "Mabanckou conjures a world where ragged modernisation coincides with tentacular kin networks and traditional lore." - Boyd Tonkin, The Independent

  • "The Lights of Pointe-Noire is a thoughtful, lyrical meditation on homecoming that artfully explores the paradoxes of a narrator torn between his new life and the roots of his childhood -- and a worthy addition to a rewarding body of work." - Russell Williams, New Statesman

  • "Above all, The Lights of Pointe-Noire is a potent meditation on what it means to live between two realities, an exploration of a home that is starting to feel foreign" - James Copnall, Times Literary Supplement

  • "Lumières de Pointe-Noire is a mixture of observations, often expressing the authorís own ambiguity about his place in the modern world." - Adele King, World Literature Today

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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Notes about the Reviews
and the Book's Reception

       The fact that he was named a finalist for the (old-style, then-still-author-prize) Man Booker International Prize at the time the UK edition came out presumanbly helped garner some attention it might otherwise not have gotten, but in any case, The Lights of Pointe-Noire got a lot of high-profile review-coverage in the UK.
       A year later it comes out in the US -- and is greeted more or less with silence (Kirkus did review it, but even Publishers Weekly seems to have passed). What gives ? Mabanckou is a major African author -- and a long-time American resident, teaching at UCLA. Every one of his publications should be getting widespread local attention !
       Or has everyone seen the light and doesn't want to have anything to do with memoirs any longer ? (No, looking over the review pages and sites, it doesn't look like reviewers have come to their senses.)

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The Lights of Pointe-Noire: Reviews: Alain Mabanckou: Other books by Alain Mabanckou under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Alain Mabanckou is from Congo-Brazzaville. He was born in 1966 and currently teaches in the US.

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