Having lived in Paris for six years, Mabanckou was pleaded with to return to Congo for his mother's funeral in 1995.

He didn't go. He finally returned to the land of his birth, and the city of Pointe-Noire, in 2012. Thanks to his bigamist father and a maternal grandfather who had 12 wives and 50 children, his family had basically colonised the rue do Louboulou, and this memoir sees him plunged into a vast extended family with plenty of colourful characters to contend with. Some, on his father's side, just want to fleece him of his money and his footwear. Others, like Grandma Hélène, whose mission is to feed every member of her clan until they burst, suffer from nothing but a surfeit of kindness. Mabanckou's visit opens up a reservoir of memories and reawakens old superstitions. But he still feels that the connection between himself and his homeland has been broken, suffusing this account with both joy and regret.