In the Shadow of the Sacred Grove

Carol Spindel, Author, Peter Dimock, Editor Vintage Books USA $14 (318p) ISBN 978-0-679-72214-4
In late 1981, freelance writer Spindel joined her agricultural geographer husband on the northern Ivory Coast, where she spent a year among the 1600 residents of a Senufo village that, in order to preserve its privacy, she here dubs Kalikaha. Her intriguing memoir wittily and astutely records both her own adjustment to the village and her perceptions of its way of life. The Senufo are generally welcoming, although she apparently threatens a translator, hired by her husband, who expects a wife to pass her days cooking and to speak only when addressed. As Spindel acquires proficiency in Dyula, the native language, she observes local customs and draws touching comparisons with American behavior: ``I wish that I belonged to a place the way her landlord belonged to Kalikaha.'' She finds metaphors in everyday events, such as women potters helping one another to balance their burdens--``No woman could raise to her own head the load she could carry for miles''--and sadly notes the lingering effects of Western colonization. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/01/1989
Release date: 08/01/1989
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