In Fiston Mwanza Mujila’s Tram 83 we are introduced to a postcolonial unnamed city in Africa which in a way is indicative of the modern day mundanities and uncertainties of a colonized world. From the beginning and throughout the novel it is obvious that there is a precarious, or rather uneasy tone of writing that Mujila uses to depict the layout of his narrative. He uses sentences like “The Northern Station was going to the dogs. It was essentially an unfinished metal structure, gutted by artillery, train tracks, and locomotives” indicating the moving factors and unfinished, or rather untold stories of the people living in this City-State which eventually ended up in the same location.
Mujila catches the readers interest by his use of prose, use of strong imagery, and repetition as well as other literary devices. A phrase that arises constantly is “Do you have the time?” which is constantly used by the waitresses and prostitutes at Tram 83 which is a state reknown restaraunt and bar located in the city’s border. Interestingly enough it is also where individuals from all walks of life gathered “in search of good times on the cheap.” All aiming to selfishly satisfy their own needs through desires and to awaken from “sleeping sickness”.
Another good tool of writing Mujila uses is the constant binaries, or juxtaposition expressed in the novel. Illustrated with the contrast of both main narrator’s names: Requiem and Lucien. One is indicative of a dark side and the other of the light. Invariably indicating the constant struggles and uncertainties people in this unnamed “City-State” in Africa have sadly fallen victims to thanks to colonization. More often than not it also is aimed towards a dark side and inicates not only a dark past, but a precariously dark future. Lucien is constantly trying to find answers and hope in knowledge, and in the good things that still exist in this new place, but can he find it throughout the ruckus or the mournful songs of the few?