Carnival by Rawi Hage

Carnival

Rawi Hage

Take a ride on the wild side in this picaresque journey around the underbelly of a nameless city at carnival time. Roll up for the Rabelaisian sideshow attractions of prostitutes, drug-dealers, perverts and assorted freaks. And remember, as our taxi-driver narrator says, 'never underestimate a clown with a book'. Be warned, this one contains strong language and explicit sex acts.

Extract

I took the wheel and my car flew through the marketplace and the Carnival, and I fancied myself a bird, then a tightrope walker in a clown's attire, singing and testing the rope with my empirical feet. Now the clown becomes a Joker, then a prophet chanting to the festive masses: I shall chase the clouds and stop the rain and save your lives from this endless charade of puppets and strings! Ladies and gentlemen, the Temple of Wonder is yours to enter, watch your head as you enter the tent, and kindly take off your shoes, a new life is waiting for you just inside. Here is your chance, ladies, to come back as a tiger, a lion, or a mockingbird, here is your chance, gentlemen, to see the eternal light and be saved from the burden of your daily life. Just sit tight in your seat, clap when you're told to, and leave when you hear the buzz of the Joker, or when the light above the door goes long and horizontal. Hurry, the show is about to start! Step inside and all your troubles will be forgotten. But do not eat from any of the forbidden foods, the big cat might get excited. And kids, do not sneeze when the man reaches with his bare hands for the lion's throat. Do as the others do and you will see miracles and illusions of flying horses, the revival of the old and the greatness of the divine! Come into the temple of bliss and joy and you will be given a new mask, a new life for eternity ever after.

Parallels
  • A Confederacy of Dunces by Fintan O'Toole
  • Open City by Teju Cole
  • Taxi Driver - the film

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