The Great Agony & Pure Laughter of the Gods, Jamala Safari (South Africa)
JAMALA SAFARI was born in the DRC, but has been given refugee status and now resides in South Africa. He has published a short collection of his poems, but this is his first novel, and first publication with a conventional publisher.
Risto Mahuno’s agony is what happens to his sweetheart Néné, to his cousin, and to himself. In the east of the Congo, where the border with Rwanda is also the border between life and death, the boys are abducted and forced to become soldiers, the girls raped.
Far too much happens for 15-year-old children. Néné is claimed by the warlord, Risto’s cousin killed, and Risto, his eyes already dead, is beaten to the brink.
His fate flings him south, on a fraught journey by foot or whatever ride he can get, to Mozambique, where he arrives with even less of himself left. And yet the gods are laughing, for Risto’s journey back holds promise of love, peace and family.
The Great Agony and Pure Laughter of the Gods is on the shortlist for the 2013 Commonwealth Book Prize.