Bingo's Run

Bingo's Run

James A. Levine

Language: English

Pages: 164

ISBN: 148295043X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

For fans of Dave Eggers, Teju Cole, and James McBride, comes this extraordinary novel of morality and the redemptive powers of art that offers a glimpse into an African underworld rarely described in fiction.

Meet Bingo, the greatest drug runner in the slums of Kibera, Nairobi, and maybe the world. A teenage grifter, often mistaken for a younger boy, he faithfully serves Wolf, the drug lord of Kibera. Bingo spends his days throwing rocks at Krazi Hari, the prophet of Kibera's garbage mound, "lipping" safari tourists of their cash, and hanging out with his best friend, Slo-George, a taciturn fellow whose girth is a mystery to Bingo in a place where there is never enough food. Bingo earns his keep by running "white" to a host of clients, including Thomas Hunsa, a reclusive artist whose paintings, rooted in African tradition, move him. But when Bingo witnesses a drug-related murder and Wolf sends him to an orphanage for "protection," Bingo's life changes and he learns that life itself is the "run."

A modern trickster tale that draws on African folklore, Bingo's Run is a wildly original, often very funny, and always moving story of a boy alone in a corrupt and dangerous world who must depend on his wits and inner resources to survive.


"Bingo's voice guides us; by turns he is aggressive, confident, smart, cynical, but also naive. Bingo tosses his observations at us with great urgency, almost percussively, in a staccato manner that recalls gunshots. And though he's blunt, he's also a sensitive observer. . . . Levine is creating a sense of an entire world, raffish and fast. . . . The larger story Levine is telling . . . is the story of a person's mind, and of the good, bad, and indifferent forces that make him what he is--and that story is told with compassion and intelligence."--The Boston Globe

"James A. Levine is a deeply gifted writer who reaches into the dirt, sweat, and diesel of modern-day Nairobi and introduces us to a young innocent whose adventures are unforgettable. Bingo's runs between joy and death, laughter and sorrow, survival and redemption, will make you feel like cheering."--James McBride, author of The Good Lord Bird and The Color of Water

"Bingo's Run is one of those rare books that infuse a potentially difficult subject with intimacy, tenderness, and humor. Social commentary, gritty comedy, and pure cinematic adrenaline meet in an utterly compelling novel with a voice all its own."--Tash Aw, author of Five Star Billionaire

"Bingo's Run manages to read like timely news and high adventure at the same time. Levine's main character, Bingo, is an underage drug runner, hardened orphan, and hustler extraordinaire. He's also funny and wise well beyond his years. The rousing story of Bingo's evolution is matched only by Levine's portrait of modern-day Nairobi, both child and city depicted with real flair and affection."--Victor LaValle, author of The Devil in Silver

"Bingo is a fascinating and inimitably likable character. Levine, a Mayo clinic professor of medicine and well-known child advocate, excels at telling his adventurous, comic, and realistically gritty story with humor but not with pathos, successfully addressing the harsh and sometimes tragic story of a child at risk."--Library Journal

From the Hardcover edition.













added, “Manabí, we will fookin’ kill ’em.” The crowd groaned, “Kill ’em.” There had not been a good riot for months. After a while everyone left. Wolf shouted, “Meejit—wait!” When the hut was empty (even Dog was told, “Go”), Wolf bent his finger at me. “Come,” he said. I went and stood in front of him. I waited for a slap, but Wolf rubbed the top of my head. He spoke, each word slow and careful. “You tha witness, Meejit. Them fookin’ Manabí kill Boss Jonni. Ya tha witness tha’ Manabí kill

who are good at what they do. Father Matthew was the best priest I could imagine. He was so crooked that he bent all the way round. Just like his God, the boss of all bosses, his business went on forever. Chapter 15. Thursday-Morning Deliveries to Thomas Hunsa, the Artist On the first Thursday morning after my meeting with Father Matthew, at 7:00 A.M., I went into Kibera to get Hunsa’s white. It was a good time to go, before the heat got crazy. Things had changed in the Kibera store. Dog

live. In life, as in death, they shall sing your praise. They shall sing of your light, as they shall dance to your drum. They will sacrifice and they shall obey. This pleased Nzame, the Master of Everything. Mboya wrapped Nzame in her brown shawl, and their son was called Bingo. Chapter 21. The Livingstone Hotel, Nairobi, Kenya Father Matthew stopped the transit van in the driveway of the Livingstone Hotel. “Bingo, get out,” he said. “I will park.” I jumped out of the blue St. Michael’s

arrived there was no sign of her. I looked about and saw no one. I slid under the bus. It took seconds to pull down the plastic bag. I pushed it down my shirt and crawled out. Then I went behind a drink hut and took out the money I needed. In a minute, my money bag was back underneath the busload of condoms. There were rumors about the Kepha. One was that he was a hotshot lawyer in Lagos who had left Nigeria in a hurry because of the police. Some said that the Kepha only helped the poor, which

sunglasses into the pocket, and we went to the third floor. At the door of the Lyle Suite, Mrs. Steele said, “Bingo, I have some calls to make. If you are hungry, just go down to the restaurant and charge it to your room.” Her hand was on the door handle. She held it but did not go into her room. Her eyes were still and dark. She blinked, and then her hooker-red smile flickered on. She made her smile bigger, but it was just for her to hide inside. I smiled back, like a mirror, at Mrs. Steele.

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