MixedThe Wall Street JournalThe first-person narration in this long [first] section is a somewhat uneasy blend of boarding-school drama joined up to excurses on Congolese social life and ethnic tensions; the reader feels the point of view blur between that of the boy Moses and the adult who looks back upon boyhood ... When the good Maman and her business are eviscerated by a corrupt politician’s clean-up drive, Little Pepper is orphaned once more—and this time it is too much for him...It is here, for the first time in the book, that Mr. Mabanckou’s narration rings with a beautiful poetry, notes not on a madcap world but a private universe of genuine madness and misanthropy ... One could argue that with Black Moses Mr. Mabanckou has exhausted the possibilities of a certain scattershot narrative method. Despite the promise of the material, he often cannot prevent his storytelling here from lapsing into mere mannerism. The confessional first-person narration, the walk-on monologues of minor characters, the slangy dialogue sprinkled with exclamation marks, all seem a little hungover.
RaveThe Washington Post...a book that should be read by any young person contemplating a degree in the humanities. But for the full force of its majestic revelations and wrenching insights about selfhood, literature, history and politics, one should give a whole weekend to Ngugi and read its prequels first ... Ngugi leaves the university both a free man — in the sense of having become a thinker who has transcended his limited origins — and the citizen of a free country. Even so, the book ends on an unusually pessimistic note, with forebodings of the crises to come: the dictatorship of Daniel arap Moi (under whose regime Ngugi was thrown into prison) and the retrospective sense that colonialism had, even in departing the scene physically, left its tentacles in Africa. The face of the young man slips away, replaced by that of a rueful 78-year-old. None of that will distract the reader, though, from the stirring message at the heart of this book and its predecessors: Every page ripples with a contagious faith in education and in the power of literature to shape the imagination and scour the conscience. Indeed, it’s hard to think of another living writer today — Orhan Pamuk, perhaps — who speaks so inspiringly and convincingly about the value of literature. No serious reader will want to miss this riveting story of how a herdsboy and child laborer 'became a weaver of dreams.”'