This is one of those heart-breaking tales that won’t quite reveal its heart-breakingness until the last three pages and until that odd realm of thoughtful time beyond called reflection. I admit that I struggled through this; I would put it down and not want to pick it up.
WHAT’s it ABOUT: This is Africa when the missionaries of Victorian England came to save their souls: community, folklore, religion, reaction, life. and death. Always death.
“And so on this particular night as the cryer’s voice was gradually swallowed up in the distance, silence returned to the world,
a vibrant silence made more intense by the universal trill of 1 million million forest insects.
Because, during the reading with its matter-of-fact ‘other-worldliness’ (aka not relatable cuz ‘foreign’) tales of lives long gone and of places “no longer” and CULTURES OBLITERATED, we (aka I) couldn’t get into it.
It was the matter-of-factness that both held sway and failed to be riveting. How could I relate? There was no drama. It was all “big-bad-dude gets his feelings hurt and reacts like a man, all hurt-pride. blah blah blah.” He had a tender side, of course. They all do.
But the last few pages, in the heart-breaking scenes of what happens, the result – also told in the same matter-of-factness – is what stuns the reader into the realization that these are people (doh!) and that bad shit happens the world over, always has and always will.
I do think it somewhat GOOD to know that BAD craziness has always happened. We tend to think that the good-ol’-days were all sunshine and daisies and puppies but bad crap has happened every day everywhere and it probably isn’t getting better nor worse.
THAT is why I read history and historical fiction. It is NOT good to dwell on how the world is ‘going to shit’. We MUST put positive vibes into the universe or the bad guys win!
This book has humor and sad (horrifying*) superstitions and truths about people and community – the good and the bad. I am glad to have read it.
“… filled the air as the spirits of the ancestors, just emerged from the earth, greeted themselves in their esoteric language.” (Connects to the Martian elders in Strange in a Strange Land)”
RATING: 4 slices of pie. Sweet Potato Pie?
*the fact that twins were killed cuz twins are bad made me feel all the sadnesses.