cover image Jalamanta: A Message from the Desert

Jalamanta: A Message from the Desert

Rudolfo A. Anaya. Warner Books, $17.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-446-52024-9

Anaya's preachy New Age parable is a sharp departure from the yeasty realism that won him a large readership for novels like Bless Me, Ultima and Alburquerque. Wise, gray-haired, cotton-robed heretic Jalamanta, returning from 30 years of politically enforced exile in the desert, rejoins his faithful wife, Fatimah, and attracts new followers with his teachings. He urges listeners to pursue the ``Path of the Sun''--to meditate, love one another, revere the Earth and find a path of their own choosing. According to Jalamanta, we can fill our souls with the light of the ``First Creation'' and evolve toward a higher consciousness. Inevitably, he clashes with the ``central authorities''--who promote militaristic dogma, established religion and cynical manipulation of the masses--and brings down the wrath of Benago, their chief inquisitor. Jalamanta's pronouncements freely synthesize Christian, Hindu, Islamic, Buddhist, Native American, gnostic and shamanic traditions to present a universal message of fellowship. Like all lofty sentiments, these become somewhat platitudinous with repetition. Author tour. (Feb.)