Wednesday, July 18, 2012

"The Explosion of the Radiator Hose" by Jean Rolin

I thought this was an interesting part-fiction/ part-factual English translation of a French book written by journalist Jean Rolin. Its a travelogue by Rolin about transporting a used Audi car from Paris to Kinshasa (Congo) for use as a taxi and everything he sees, experiences & hears on the way.

I knew very little about the Republic of Congo (hell, I didn't even know that Zaire has been renamed as Congo!) except that it was a French colony once & has a horrifying political history stained by coups, blood-curdling assasinations & brutal rebels. This is your typical 'white man in Africa' account - its mainly about the author's unease & sense of danger/ adventure - starting in the immigrant-ghettos of Paris and ending in "the heart of darkness" (a reference to a novel written by Conrad in the previous century).

Perhaps Jean Rolin rambles a bit every now & then but he has a habit of jotting down quirky details of the places & people he sees; and that's what makes this travelogue interesting.

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