Sep 08, 11
Recommended to Nate D by:
Byrne, Butler, Eno
short ghosts, smelling ghosts, transforming antelope-women
Read from September 05 to 07, 2011
One day in Nigeria one of the three common types of war breaks out, and a 7-year-old boy is abandoned to it by his father's jealous second wife. He is too young even to know the meanings of "good" and "evil", but escapes by accident into the human-forbidden bush of ghosts, where the spirits walk, and he will find himself pursued by fearful specters, changed in form, worshipped as a god, and taking part in strange rites. Conveyed in the conversational tones of spoken Nigerian English and drawn from the rich, otherworldly mythology of his colliding Yoruba/Christian-upbringing, Tutuola's novel is seemingly unique in literature: a sort of effortless home-grown African surrealism, rich and memorable. The novel's series of pared-down episodes without a lot of description or character development seem consistent with an oral tradition rather than a literary one (of course), but that suits the immediacy and vibrancy of the telling just fine. Though so much happens at times as to overwhelm, and to make me wish I could hear more about just a few of the strange, nightmarish villages and landscapes through which our protagonist must travel during his odyssey. I'd really like to know how much of this is purely Tutuola's imagination versus cultural memory.