Dark Heart of the Night

Leonora Miano, Author, Tamsin Black, Translator, Terese Svoboda, Foreword by , trans from the French by Tamsin Black. Univ. of Nebraska $45 (143p) ISBN 978-0-8032-1567-2 ISBN 978-0-8032-2823-8

Leaden prose and unimaginative detail weigh down this straightforward story of ritualistic atrocity in a fictionalized Cameroon. As a young woman, Ayané, the daughter of parents ostracized from their impoverished village, returns home for a visit from France just as a rebel army occupies the village. There, in the name of national unity, Isilo, the drug-addled rebel commander, has a village elder murdered, humiliates the men, and presses the children into his army. The atrocity bottoms out when he forces the villagers to eat the flesh of one of their own. Miano's plot has the makings of a rich morality tale, but the surprises are trotted out with the plodding pomp of a coronation. The story's effectiveness is also hindered by a cast of thinly drawn characters whose familiarity fails to add needed depth. Though there are occasional stretches that show Miano as a writer of talent, this first novel is marked more by its good intentions than its literary quality. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 02/22/2010
Release date: 04/01/2010
Genre: Fiction
Hardcover - 143 pages - 978-0-8032-1567-2
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