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Kojo Laing. McSweeney's, $22 (329p) ISBN 978-1-936365-22-7
Set in Ghana in 1975, Laing's intricate, beautifully rambling novel follows Beni Baidoo and a tangle of characters through an overlapping series of events and undertakings in the city of Accra. The story revolves loosely around Beni's desire to found a village, and though the plot is occasionally overwhelmed by description and digressions, vivid prose and singular characters more than make up for any narrative fogginess. Most things in this book—from buildings to forests—have a distinctly human cast, and Accra itself is as much a character as it is a place. Against this bustling backdrop, Laing weaves together philosophical musings on the uses of time, history, magic, forgiveness, justice, and national identity, lightening often somber subjects with bawdy humor. The abrupt shifts in tone create an atmosphere of simultaneity, gathering contradictions—and divers narrative threads—into concert in denial of permanence or stability. Insisting on the multivalence of humanity is certainly not a new idea, but the power of Laing's writing and the complexity of his subject—a country rising out of colonialism and looking to the future—make for a compelling and rewarding read. Originally published in 1986, this lovely new edition returns it to print. (May)
Reviewed on: 06/11/2012
Release date: 05/01/2012
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