In the midst of the present-day ethnic rivalry in the Congo, child soldiers have begun cropping up as unofficial reinforcements of the military. Ill-educated and poor, Johnny has seized a Kalashnikov and a chance to loot and murder his way into having what he's always dreamed of - Armani cologne, Gucci parasols, endless supplies of alcohol and pot, and wealthy women forced into submission.
Laokole, a girl of Johnny's age, is running from the riots with what's left of her family. Her father was murdered, her mother maimed, and now her brother disappears in the confusion of the thousands of refugees running from the gunfire closing in on both sides. Doctors Without Borders give her aid, but true salvation means leaving the country, and Laokole knows that her homeland is doomed if everyone with the opportunity to escape does so.
Narrated by both Johnny and Laokole, the novel chronicles the horrors of slaughter, exploitation, rape, racism, indoctrination, and anarchy that the two experience, culminating in the final confrontation of Laokole's desperate resilience with Johnny's mindless, pitiless brutality.
Written in 2002 by Emmanuel Dongala, the novel has been turned into a frequently-banned movie in 2008.