The narrator of Albert Russo’s novel Zapinette Video is the wise-child Zapinette. The stream of conscious technique is employed by Russo to unfathom a child’s consciousness and psyche. Russo unravels the stream of a young girl Zapinette’s consciousness, her soul’s mysterious life and intensities. The novel reminds us of Joyce, Nabokov and Lewis Carroll.
Highly acclaimed by James Baldwin, Pierre Emmanuel, Paul Willems and Edmund White, Russo’s writings have been translated into several languages. In the second novel Zapinette Goes To New York, the wise-child reveals a greater maturity. She even falls in love with a boy from Staten Island. Unky Berky tries to ‘rediscover America with fresh eyes’. Euro-Zapinette reveals her most exalted mood in the multicultural Belgium. No more she thinks of Disneyland and Coca-Cola. Aware now of the European colonization, Zapinette is now awake to the need of tolerance. Russo’s vision is marked by an inner veracity, and it is nothing short of a miracle that through the creation of Zapinette, Russo is able to grasp the root of the things by her witty and acute reflections, pregnant and random suggestions.
Russo’s greatest achievement and main attraction throughout Oh Zaperetta is in exploring Zapinette’s highly eloquent consciousness fascinated by various milieus, and thus creating a subtle design of multiple vision, which results in her self-realisation. Oh Zaperetta is an ‘interior’ novel, because Russo is revealing all those thought-sequences, which occupy the consciousness of Zapinette. One of the best illustrations of Russo’s sense of humour is evident in those scenes which describe a revised version of Bible’s Ten Commandments:
To ‘Thou shalt honour your father and mother’, I have added, "not if your dad ran away, leaving you and your mom on the dole, without a single farting…For ‘Thou shalt not kill’, I had to specify, "In case you get shot at by snipers like in Sarjevo and they missed you, throw back a hand grenade, unless you consider yourself a target not worth two farthings."
This whole passage is worth reading to understand what Russo is after. He is not evoking Rabelais’ uproarious laughter. He is discovering the pathos in the comical situations. What is extraordinary about Oh Zaperetta is that Russo ‘awakens and enlarges the mind itself by rendering it the receptacle of a thousand unapprehended combinations of thought’.
About Albert Russo
a bilingual author, writes in both English and French, his two ‘mother tongues’; he also speaks five languages fluently. He is the recipient of many awards, such as The American Society of Writers Fiction Award, The British Diversity Short Story Award, several New York Poetry Forum Awards, Amelia Prose and Poetry awards and the Prix Colette, among others. He has also been nominated for the W. B. Yeats and Robert Penn Warren poetry awards. His fiction, which has been praised by James Baldwin, Pierre Emmanuel, Paul Willems, Gilles Perrault and Edmund White, has appeared worldwide in a dozen languages. The BBC World Service has broadcast his story The Discovery. His African novels have been favorably compared to V.S. Naipaul’s work, which was honored with the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2001. He is a member of the jury for the Prix Européen (with Ionesco, until his death) and sat in 1996 on the panel of the prestigious Neustadt International Prize for Literature, which often leads to the Nobel Prize. His most recent novels in English: ZANY, ZAPINETTE NEW YORK, MIXED BLOOD or Your Son Léopold and ECLIPSE OVER LAKE TANGANYIKA, all with Domhan Books (NY); in French: L’AMANT DE MON PÈRE (Ed. Le Nouvel Athanor), ZAPINETTE À NEW YORK, ZAPINETTE CHEZ LES BELGES, and l’ANCETRE NOIRE, all three with Editions Hors Commerce (Paris). The author’s literary website: www.albertrusso.com
(Oh Zaperetta! Published by Xlibris, USA, 2004, pp. 475, ISBN 1-4134-7014-9)