After reading King Leopold’s Ghost, it is hard to believe that anyone could find a way to write a comic novel about the Belgian Congo. Somehow, Atxaga (no idea how to pronounce that) has managed it. He gives us maybe a dozen or so round characters and uses the arrival of a new solider, Chrysostome, to set events in action. Atxaga allows us to see into the minds of all of the major characters, and we like none of them and we like all of them – a delicate balancing act. These people have gone past the heart of darkness and stayed for so long that they’ve gotten bored there. Their corruption – moral, physical, spiritual, mental, financial – has become organized. They make lists.
This is the second Atxaga book I’ve read (The Accordionist’s Son); I recommend both of them.