The River in the Belly is the collection only Mujila could write, blending musical lyricism, legend, and theology from Africa and Europe; from the widely-acclaimed author of the novel Tram 83.Created originally as part of a multi-disciplinary work of poetry, music, video, and dance performed in Europe in 2019, The River in the Belly shows the Congo River as it runs in real life and through Mujila's body and mind; he contemplates his native river and the decades of upheaval the Democratic Republic of Congo has gone through, in turns berating and serenading a homeland from exile in Austria. This bittersweet, ambitious collection, in the words of translator J. Bret Maney, "does no less than seek to reinitiate the Congo River in the imaginary of European languages."
About the Author
Fiston Mwanza Mujila's writing foregrounds its debt to jazz, responds to political turbulence in his native country and its effects on everyday life, and displays an often incandescent, improvisatory verbal energy, replete with bouts of irreverent humor and surprising tonal shifts. He is the recipient of many literary prizes, including, most recently, the Peter-Rosegger-Literaturpreis (Austria, 2018). He is the author of Tram 83, published in English in 2015 by Deep Vellum; winner of the German International Literature award and long-listed for the International Man Booker and the Prix du Monde. Mujila born in 1981 in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo, and now lives in Graz, Austria. J. Bret Maney is an assistant professor of English at Lehman College, CUNY. He earned a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature and Literary Theory at the University of Pennsylvania and has worked as a translator from the French and Spanish since 2005. Before starting graduate school, Maney founded and ran the Talking World translation agency. His translation of Manhattan Tropics has been honored by the Ezra Pound Prize for Literary Translation, a PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant, and a Commendation in the Gulf Coast Translation Prize.