So, if I had to sum up the Democratic Republic of Congo in one word, it would be Conflict.

Before reading this book, I would highly encourage you to read this brief timeline of the country. It still make you much less confused as you read the book, trust me.

So: the Democratic Republic of Congo and Tram 83 by Fiston Mwanza Mujila!

To give you an idea of how good this book is, it has already been longlisted for the Man Booker International Prize for 2016, and was the winner of the 2015 Etisalat Prize for Literature.

This is a super dark novel that, despite its depressing atmosphere, overflows with life – albeit sometimes with forceful desperation. For example, underage prostitutes, dubbed “baby chicks,” are quite common in the novel, as prostitution is often the only way these girls can hope to survive. Despite their dour circumstances, these girls continue to push onward with life; to survive, even through means that most would find degrading and unthinkable.

The novel centers around a nightclub called “Tram 83,” where people from all walks of life can be found: musicians, drug dealers, prostitutes/waitresses, soldiers, miners, businessmen, students, etc. It is here that most of the action takes place, centered around two characters: Lucien, an unemployed historian, and Requiem, whose exact business is unclear, but it is definitely shady. Although Lucien and Requiem are old friends, their differing interests cause conflict between them, which continues to grow as the novel goes on.

When I think of the sheer struggle for survival that everyone in this book faces, I think of stories of lone travelers, injured but still alive, miles from civilization, who somehow still find the will to claw hand-over-hand to find help.

Something kind of like this:


I think ^that about sums it up. Definitely something that I will re-read at some point!

Are there any books that you have read that remind you of a similar struggle for survival? Let me know in the comments!