Umfaan's Heroes

Jon Elkon, Author Trafalgar Square Publishing $19.95 (280p) ISBN 978-0-233-98361-5
First novelist Elkon has done his utmost to keep this tale about injustice in his native South Africa from becoming ``merely'' political. Working with an often facile plot about the moral awakening of two white boys who eventually aid an imprisoned black activist, the author adds elements intended to be simultaneously comic and mythopoetic. The narrator, one of the boys, not only claims awareness of who he was during past lives on Earth, but recognizes the previous incarnations of those he meets. A wise old man spins diverting if cryptic fables, sowing images that recur throughout the novel. But these overtures to universality are defeated by Elkon's miserly portrayals of many characters. Describing a couple's engagement, the narrator remarks that the well-bred bride is delighted with her ``poor Jewboy'' mate because marrying him is ``such a daring, rebellious, romantic thing to do.'' The groom, meanwhile, is on cloud nine: ``He had always wanted to marry a rich shiksa.'' Trapped by a certain pettiness of his own, Elkon fails to persuade us that his moral vision is the real thing. (July)
Reviewed on: 07/01/1990
Release date: 07/01/1990
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 178 pages - 978-1-4835-5323-8
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