The world is a bar: Fiston Mwanza Mujila’s writing beyond ‘Africa’




Fiston Mujila, bar, sexism, controversy


Taking recent debates on ‘How to write Africa’ in general and the allegations of sexism in Fiston Mwanza Mujila’s novel Tram 83 in particular as a starting point, I analyze three texts by the Austria-based Congolese author in this article. Considering the scope of each text, namely Tram 83 (2014), the play Zu der Zeit der Königinmutter (The Times of the Queen Mother, 2018), and the latest novel La danse du vilain (The Dance of the Villain, 2020), shifting images and meanings of gender dichotomies are explored alongside Mujila’s aesthetic literary devices. The article is structured around the omnipresent setting of bars that develop from a disputable ‘African’ bar in Tram 83 to a radically global bar in Zu der Zeit der Königinmutter and to referentially set bars of Central Africa’s postcolonial history in La danse du vilain. I argue that recurrence of the bar as a focal lieu of mingling people in Mujila’s writing underlines its function as satirical microcosm that goes beyond a realistic representation of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Multilayered cultural references in Tram 83 and Zu der Zeit der Königinmutter construct the setting into a worldly space whereas La danse du vilain privileges a historical approach. As further pointed out, the metatextual level that is woven into the texts comments on the difficulty of the adequate representation of ‘Africa’ and the pitfalls of the global literary market place. 


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Author Biography

Susanne Gehrmann, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany

Susanne Gehrmann is professor of African literatures and cultures in the Department of Asian and African studies, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany. Her research interests include autobiographical and popular genres, discourse analysis, and intermediality.


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How to Cite

Gehrmann, S. (2022). The world is a bar: Fiston Mwanza Mujila’s writing beyond ‘Africa’. Tydskrif Vir Letterkunde, 59(3), 165–183.



Research articles