Short Story #27. The Fugitive (Alain Mabanckou)

Deal Me In Reading Challenge: I drew the King of diamonds.

Story: The Fugitive, by Alain Mabanckou (from The Granta Book of the African Short Story) (read in October; review posted

Comments: This is included as a short story in a book of short stories, but it reads more like an extract from a biographical essay.  The author was born in Congo and went to France as a young student.  In this “story” he recounts how he was one day chased by three inspectors at the Montparnasse-Bienvenue Station in Paris, who suspected – rightly – that he did not have a ticket.  Mabanckou describes the chase in some detail, and the events which led up to it.  The two white inspectors eventually give up the chase, feeling that it’s not worth it, but the black inspector pursues and eventually apprehends him.  The inspector is West Indian.  Mabanckou goes on

“…it’s seventeen years later, and I’m remembering the day I was taken to a police station for the first time in my life.  The day I realized that some of my writing would tackle the complexity of racism between people of the same colour.  When I was writing my first novel, Bleu-Blanc-Rouge, I was haunted by that marathon sprint through the corridors of Montparnasse-Bienvenue…

And many years after that, as I was writing another novel, Black Bazar, I was haunted by the face of that black West Indian as he chased me.  I could see him caricaturing me and complaining about the fraudulent activities of the ‘African gangs’ of Chateau Rouge…

And he continues with some more reflections on the impact of that incident on his writing, and on the questions he raises in his writing.  So it sounds to me more like an extract from an interview than a short story.

As chase stories go, it’s hard to beat Jeffrey Archer’s “Never Stop on the Motorway”.  I challenge anyone to read that and not have their heart pounding and blood racing at the end.  “The Fugitive” is not like that at all.


2 thoughts on “Short Story #27. The Fugitive (Alain Mabanckou)

  1. It’s interesting how the perspective of racism or view of race relations in the U.S. differs, e.g. between African Americans and black people from other countries. At our last book club meeting at the Vonnegut Library (where we read Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man”) we were fortunate to have a native Kenyan in attendance who shared some of her perspective. She said she could often tell that something had offended her black American friends,but she wouldn’t always know why until it was explained later.

  2. Pingback: Deal Me In – Week 44 Wrap Up | Bibliophilopolis

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