“… Broken Glass, and when the sky is too blue, like that, you have to remember that one day something might come along and turn it grey, if the sun shines too brightly it can kill your love…”
Saddled with his own worries, Broken Glass is asked by Stubborn Snail the owner of Credit Gone West— a bar he made his second home —to write about events that happen in the bar and customers who frequent the place because according to him, ‘…people…have no sense of the importance of memory… this is the age of written word, that’s all that’s left…’ Stubborn Snail is interested in having handy memorable events just incase his bar becomes non-existent someday. Broken Glass starts with the genesis revolving the bar’s existence then moves on to revelations about people willing to share their stories and happenings in the bar. As he carries out his task at his own pace, you cross paths with a range of characters with funny names, from Pampers Guy to Zero Fault. There were laugh-out-loud moments even in the face of sufferings. Towards the end, Broken Glass dishes out his own story and you realize that like everyone else he is broken and has his own problem.
The book is divided into two parts and written in first person. It also embodies a range of classic quotes and literature, some of which you might be familiar with. Mabanckou uses a mix of humour & satire to relate a tale of drunks, broken individuals, overbearing officials, ‘some old club of ex-alcoholics’, ‘The weekend-and-bank holiday-cuckolds club’ etc. One thing to note if you plan to read this book is that, it does not entail your everyday usual writing style. In Broken Glass, Alain Mabanckou makes no use of full stops or capital letters. The entire book is full of commas. It was quite challenging at first because there were times I had to read previous lines to make sense of the next one but I got used to it. If you can ignore the lack of full stops and other writing styles you are used to, you’d enjoy this brilliant piece.
As for the titles of 170 classics of international literature mentioned in the book, that was a struggle! Was only able to find 50.