The Ministry of Hope

Roy Heath, Author Marion Boyars Publishers $24.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-7145-3015-4
With a fine ear for comic dialogue and an eye for the ironies of clashing personalities, Heath (The Murderer), who was born in Guyana and emigrated to England, follows the fortunes of the trickster hero of Kwaku, or The Man Who Couldn't Keep His Mouth Shut. Reduced to destitution after losing his status as village faith healer, Kwaku Cholmondeley starts over in Guyana's capital city of Georgetown under the double-edged patronage of an enterprising civil servant nicknamed the Right Hand man at the Ministry of Hope. The Right Hand man has a specious reputation for honesty and a talent for gathering toadies, including a onetime firebug who's now a currency smuggler. After numerous embarrassments suffered in adjusting to city ways. Kwaku escapes from the ranks of the hangers-on, returning to the healing racket with a talking cure. Unfortunately, he finds his material success still caught up in the fortunes of the Right Hand man. With a superb supporting motley crew, Heath freely orchestrates a vibrant, idiomatic chorus of comic exchanges, gossip and boasts. Whether talking about the thriving business of selling antique chamber pots to tourists or the rumored lootings of graveyards, whose residents were employed in the last fraudulent election that brought the Right Hand man's party to power, the voluble cast chatters about everything under the sun. Heath ably steers his charming ship of fools and knaves through a sea of picaresque corruption to a generous-hearted conclusion. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 07/03/2000
Release date: 07/01/2000
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