cover image God Carlos

God Carlos

Anthony C. Winkler. Akashic, $15.95 trade paper (200p) ISBN 978-1-61775-139-4

The protagonist of Winkler's darkly irreverent new novel (after Dog War) is a 16th-century Spanish sailor named Carlos, cursed with a "misshapen" face, "gnomic" features, and a "voracious appetite for slaughter." Despite his physical and intellectual shortcomings, the "instinctively submissive" Carlos has long entertained a "dream of being godlike." An opportunity to fulfill his heretical fantasy arises when he is offered passage on the Santa Inez, a ship bound for Jamaica, where, a fellow sailor informs him, the natives "were exceedingly friendly with their visitors from overseas, whom they regarded as gods." Once the ship arrives, "unannounced like a thief," the "merciless" crewmembers slay the native Arawak men and rape the women, yet Carlos nevertheless manages to find a believer in the young, impressionable, Orocobix, who kneels before "God Carlos," and watches as his idol engages in many of the same activities as his countrymen, "such as eating, sleeping, and relieving themselves." Though the sailor revels in his newfound deism, one devotee may not be enough to save Carlos from the consequences of his vanity. With a sharp tongue, Winkler, a native of Jamaica, deftly imbues this blackly funny satire with an expos%C3%A9 of colonialism's avarice and futility. (Sept.)