Barawa & Way Birds Fly

Michael Jackson, Author Smithsonian Books $28 (212p) ISBN 978-0-87474-536-8
One of the most interesting features of this work by a New Zealand poet-anthropologist is that it exists at all. Its venerable publisher has never before brought out a novel, even an ""ethnographic novel,'' as this is subtitled; it's the first volume in the new Smithsonian series in Ethnographic Inquiry. Jackson wrote it to express gratitude and esteem for the Kuranko people of Barawa, among whom he lived and worked, to impart to a wider public than academic scholars his own hard-won knowledge and profound affection. The result is scarcely fiction at alleven the guise of fiction is abandoned in sections given over to detailed history of the colonial beginnings, of expeditions into the interior in the early years of the 19th century and the rapid historical survey of later decades. Jackson in his own name comes to the Barawa country to learn its language and culture, customs and myths, religion and institutions. His success in this admirable venture is exemplary; but only in a superficial sensea veneer of character, dialogue, situationcan the book he produced be called a novel. Illustrations. (May 20)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1986
Release date: 04/01/1986
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