O's Top 20 Books to Read This Summer
The must-reads that'll take you straight through to Labor Day.
5 of 20
Told with heart and wit, this is the coming-of-age saga of Tokumisa Nzambe po Mose yamoyindo abotami namboka ya Bakoko—or, as he's known in his orphanage, Moses. He grows up in the author's native Congo-Brazzaville during the postindependence 1970s and '80s, a national upheaval Mabanckou deftly distills into his characters' lives. After the orphanage's beloved priest disappears, a wicked new administration is announced in obeisance to the ruling party. Moses escapes, but later confronts the very terror he thought he'd fled. The novel evolved from a 2012 trip Mabanckou made to the Congo, his first in 23 years. Though the book is fiction, Mabanckou "felt like I was writing about my own life," seeking to depict how dictatorships crush their captives, the "witnesses to our history."