Pandora in the Congo

Albert Sanchez Pinol (Author) Mara Faye Lethem (Translator)
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It is 1914 when Marcus Garvey, a bedraggled British manservant, emerges from the depths of the Belgian Congo. He is the sole survivor of an ill-fated mining expedition in which both his masters, William and Richard Craver, died and from which their African porters unexpectedly fled. Garvey returns to London carrying two diamonds of extraordinary size, spinning a story too unspeakably terrifying to be believed. He is promptly arrested. Tommy Thompson, a London ghostwriter for a ghostwriter for a ghostwriter (don't ask!), is approached by his attorney to document Garvey's unholy African odyssey. From his prison cell awaiting the murder trial, Garvey recounts the mind-boggling horror that the Craver mining expedition encountered in the dark recesses of the Belgian Congo. Exactly how did the Craver brothers die? What unearthly forces would drive men to commit such acts of immeasurable brutality? Could love have possibly bloomed in the heart of such darkness? Only Tommy can untangle the mysteries of the Garvey case. A brilliant literary pastiche and tongue-in-cheek pulp African adventure with echoes of Heart of Darkness and King Solomon's Mines, Pandora in the Congo is, at its heart, a fabulist literary exploration of imagination, reminding us that there is rarely one version to any story, and always more than meets the eye.

Product Details

$15.95  $14.67
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Publish Date
March 01, 2009
5.48 X 1.15 X 8.3 inches | 0.86 pounds
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About the Author

Mara Faye Lethem is a Brooklyn-born, Barcelona-based writer and literary translator from Catalan and Spanish. Her translations have appeared in The Best American Non-Required Reading 2010, Granta, the Paris Review, and McSweeney's.


"Full of sci-fi happenings and tall tales, Albert Sanchez Pinol's sparky romp is addictive."
"A wonderful oddity . . . an adventure yarn that could stand alongside the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs."
"It lets us know the worst, and yet we can still value the morally ambiguous product of Tommy's idealism, talent, and unselfish love."
"An action-packed adventure story in the best Rider Haggard tradition. It is also a parody of such novels and a sophisticated reflection on the imaginative power of literature. . . . Sanchez Pinol's originality lies in his themes and excellently structured plot. This is an impressive and most unusual novel."
"The author succeeds in detailing an environment oppressive enough to disintegrate body and soul. . . . The suspense and revolver-blasting battles are all perfectly handled. . . . There is a contemporary intelligence at play in this writing. To a bouillabaisse of H. Rider Haggard, Pinol adds a dash of Dave Eggers."
"Applying the differential polarities of structural anthropology to all sorts of expectations--racial, cultural, literary--It melds the ironies of Christopher Hope's Darkest England with the shape-shifting brio of Richard Flanagan's Gould's Book of Fish. Going beyond particular postcolonial politics (as might detain a British or Commonwealth writer) into that realm of hyperbolic fabulation where Umberto Eco has long made safari, Pandora in the Congo marks Sanchez Pinol's emergence as a significant European writer."