About the book
Sold toFrance: Marabout
“It appears to be a repeating pattern in our family, mothers that fail their daughters and daughters that fail their mothers.”
Kapi is Mother’s youngest daughter, her name means “the one who was born after the child that died”. She has been brought into this world with the sole purpose to console her mother. In 1996, Kapi, her sister Joséphine and Mother leave Kinshasa for a bitterly cold Stockholm, where they come to share an apartment in a high-rise with twelve other family members. The lively household is predominantly ruled by women with the charismatic and forceful grandmother Ma at the helm. There is always something tasty cooking in the kitchen and the rooms are full of animated voices and brewing conflicts. Kapi and Joséphine quickly become aware of the complex relationship between Ma and Mother, and also the animosity between Ma and their father Ésaïe who remains in Kongo. The sisters are relieved to be far away from his draconian discipline and so-called “Manifest”, while Ma urges her daughter to leave her tyrannical husband and to tell the Migration Agency that he is a dangerous man. But it’s all up to Mother and nobody knows what goes on in her mind. And soon Ésaïe will join his family in Stockholm, threatening further disruption.
An Exercise in Revolution is a novel about mothers and daughters, about oppression and power; resistance and emancipation. In this sophomore novel, Kayo Mpoyi wants to investigate memory and history in an attempt to interpret the story that was never told, a mother’s story, from different directions. It involves a silence that haunts every generation of a family and a love that is both nurturing and destructive. The question that remains is if fiction can truly be a substitute for silence.