Two Titles that will suit the literary armchair traveller.jpg

Two Titles that will suit the literary armchair traveller

TWO TITLES recently issued in hardback, but available here in large paperback, have caused a fair amount of comment. Set in Africa and India, these will suit the literary armchair traveller very well indeed.

Wizard of the Crow

by Ngugi wa Thiong’o

From the exiled Kenyan novelist, playwright, poet, and literary critic Ngugi wa Thiong’o, comes a magisterial comic novel that is certain to take its place as a landmark of postcolonial African literature.

In exile now for more than 20 years, Ngugi wa Thiong’o has become one of the most widely read African writers of our time, the power and scope of his work garnering him international attention and praise. His aim in Wizard of the Crow is, in his own words, nothing less than “to sum up the Africa of the 20th century in the context of 2,000 years of world history”.

Commencing in our time and set in the “Free Republic of Aburlria,” the novel dramatises, with corrosive humour and keenness of observation, a battle for control of the souls of the Aburlrian people. Among the contenders: His High Mighty Excellency; the eponymous Wizard, an avatar of folklore and wisdom; the corrupt Christian Ministry and the nefarious Global Bank. Fashioning the stories of the powerful and the ordinary into a dazzling mosaic, Wizard of the Crow reveals humanity in all its endlessly surprising complexity.

Thiong’o’s books also include Petals of Blood, for which he was imprisoned by the Kenyan government in 1977. Informed by richly enigmatic traditional African storytelling, Wizard of the Crow is a masterpiece, the crowning achievement in Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s career thus far.

Available in large paperback, at 23.50 euros

Sacred Games

by Vikram Chandra

Vikram Chandra’s keenly anticipated new novel Sacred Games on the other hand, is a sprawling, epic story of friendships and betrayals, of terrible violence, of an astonishing modern city and its dark side. It’s a novel that attempts to capture the 21st century in all its glory.

Seven years in the making, it is an epic of exceptional richness and power, a thriller which concentrates on Mumbai, but also details an anatomy of modern India. Chandra’s novel draws the reader deep into the life of detective Sartaj Singh and into the criminal underworld of Ganesh Gaitonde, the most wanted gangster in India.

Sartaj, one of the very few Sikhs in the Mumbai police force, is used to being identified by his turban, beard and the sharp cut of his trousers, but the ‘Silky Sikh’ is now past 40, his marriage is over and his career prospects are on the slide. When Sartaj gets an anonymous tip-off as to the secret hideout of the legendary boss of the G-company, he’s determined that he’ll be the one to collect the prize.

Drawing on the best of Victorian fiction, mystery novels, Bollywood movies and Chandra’s years of first-hand research on the streets of Mumbai, Sacred Games reads like a pot-boiling page-turner, but resonates with the intelligence and emotional depth of the best of literature.

Anyone who has read Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts will be intrigued by the similarities and differences between the two men in their views of this vivid city.

Available in large paperback, at 22.50 euros