Belinda’s Book Nook Review: Bingo’s Run by James A. Levine


Title: Bingo’s Run
Author: James A. Levine
Copyright: January 7, 2014
Genre: non-fiction,
Format: audio book  Voice talent: Peter Macoo Pages: 304

Synopsis (from Amazon):

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.

My thoughts:

I came across this audio book while browsing on Overdrive on my Kindle. I loved the cover and listened to a sample and was hooked. The voice talent for this book was so pleasant to the ear and I have never read much on the drug world in Nairobi or any African countries for that matter. So although this is a work of fiction, I knew it could still shed some insight. I also knew that this book would fit into my reading resolutions for 2015.

I immediately fell into the story while listening to the voice talent. He did a great job of doing the voices for all the characters. I listened to this while working at my craft table and while working in my vegetable garden. It made the time fly even faster.

I like books that help to bring to light how complicated life can be. Especially for this young boy who lost both of his parents in turmoil at a young age and the extreme poverty. It helps to understand why he might have made the choices he did about dealing drugs.  There were a few sections of violence but overall it was about Bingo and him trying to survive and grow in such a stressful life.

Even though he was a drug dealer, I found myself wishing for him to be well, find true happiness and love. He had no one to guide him and the circumstances created so many choices for him that he would have better thought through had he had guidance.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I think the audio version really boosted it more for me. So I give it 4 butterflies.


Happy reading!


Belinda’s Book Nook: Top Ten Books written by African and African American Authors I Want to Read


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Every week, they post a new topic/top ten list and invite everyone to share their own answers. This week, I chose to list ten books written by African or African American Authors.


Death of a King by Tavis Smiley – This book I actually heard about on television when someone was interviewing the author, Tavis Smiley. I like how he said that this is the first book to deal with the last year of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life. The strength he had to continue when so many had turned against him. I definitely want to read this one.

We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo – I heard about this author in a Wall Street Journal article about African Authors.  It is about a girl’s experience moving from Zimbabwe to the US. So I quickly added it to my TBR (To Be Read) list.

Say You’re One of Them by Uwem Akapan – I saw this book on Oprah and added it to my TBR. It is a collection of stories about African children from various countries and their experiences.

Mother Poems by Hope Anita Smith – I never heard about this book but I came across it on BookOutlet and the price was amazing so I ordered it. It is about a young girl who loves her mother and the pain she feels when her mother dies. Having lost my mother almost 8 years ago now, I am still working through the pain and look for comfort in this book that deals with the death of a parent.

Belle by Paula Byrne – I have mentioned this book in earlier posts and still haven’t read it. It is a story about the first mixed-race girl introduced to high society England and raised as a lady.

Forbidden Fruit: Love Stories from the Underground Railroad by Betty DeRamus – I bought this on BookOutlet too and again a book I never heard about so I like going into books without too much hype so I can gain my own opinion.

The Black Girl Next Door by Jennife Baszile – This book is memoir about coming of age as a black girl in an exclusive white suburb in “integrated,” post-Civil Rights California. This should be an interesting read.

Sugar Changed the World by Marc Aronson, Marina Tamar Budhosa – When this award-winning husband-and-wife team discovered that they each had sugar in their family history, they were inspired to trace the globe-spanning story of the sweet substance and to seek out the voices of those who led bitter sugar lives. This book just sounds fascinating to  me.  A must read this year.

Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi – This debut novel by Helen Oyeyemi is a retelling of an old fairy tale with a twist dealing with identity in this case an African American that is passing for white.  Sounds very intriguing.

Radiance of Tomorrow by Ishmael Beah – This book deals with postwar life in Sierra Leone following two men who return to their town to try and rebuild but faced with many obstacles. I know very little about Sierra Leone so I look forward to learning more through this novel.

Hopefully I will get to read at least half of this list this year.

Happy Reading!



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