Friday, September 30, 2011

Nii Ayikwei Parkes

Tail Of The Blue Bird.

This book is set mainly in the village of Sonokrom, deep in the  Ghanaian bush country, although it’s only a few hours from Accra, Ghana’s Capital and largest city, things have remained the same for hundreds of years. This is a place where the people walk in step with their ancestors, where the old ways and the old words still have meaning, where they still understand Mother Natures tongue and the only link to the modern world is a transistor radio. After the discovery of some suspicious, possibly human, remains in one of the village huts by the girlfriend of a government minister, who freaked out by what she sees, sets off a chain of events in Accra, that goes from her to the minister and from him to an ambitious corrupt police inspector and on to the hero of this book - Kayo Odamtten, a young man, who after studying forensic pathology in England, then working several years as a crime scenes officer in the Midlands, has returned home  and now is working as a forensic pathologist  for a private company in the capital. Kayo at first refuses, but is forced by the inspector, to work the case or face imprisonment on (false) conspiracy charges.

This story then returns to the village of Sonokrom, where Kayo sets about trying to solve this case.

 Tail of the Blue Bird

This book is  part traditional detective tale, part literary novel; blending both concepts seamlessly into a  beautiful whole that manages to satisfy as a whodunit, whilst perfectly highlighting the disparities between the modern world and the traditional life of the village, that delights with it’s descriptions of the world it inhabits, scenes that don’t merely shine on the page but continue to glow on the retina and  yet like all good social commentators, whilst showing the light, the writer doesn’t shy away from the darker side of this society, painting a vivid portrait of the madness & corruption inherent in the society.

  Nii Ayikwei Parkes is a performance poet as well as a novelist and I think that is apparent in the way he  plays with words, the way his characters come alive and the way he uses the traditions, myths, the very language of Ghana, then chucks in computers, mobile phones, chucks in chromatography test, digital cameras etc…… and at the point these meet, he creates his own language, creates this book, this beautiful deep elegant complex tale that had me smitten.

 

 

Nii Ayikwei Parkes
Nii Ayikwei Parkes(Wiki)
Nii Ayikwei Parkes (Peepal Tree Press)
Contemporary Writers
A Conversation with Nii Ayikwei Parkes at,
ImageNations (Promoting African Literature)

17 comments:

mel u said...

This sounds like a very original book in a setting quite new to me.

Nana Fredua-Agyeman said...

I might be reading this book for the Ghana Literary Week hosted by Kinna of Kinna Reads between Nov. 14 and 21 2011.

parrish lantern said...

Hi Mel, heard of this book through Stu & discovered the writers poetry, then read this book, thoroughly enjoyed it.

Hi Nana, hope you enjoy it, I've some of his poetry I might post on .

Patrick (at The Literate Man) said...

Thanks for the review, Parrish. It sounds like an interesting plot in a fantastic setting. Will definitely check it out.

Tom Cunliffe said...

Hi Parrish - you have a very wide taste in reading - far more than me and I thought mine was wide enough. I tend not to go for African books all that often - but this one looks interesting with some western themes mixed in with village life

Tony said...

This looks like another interesting one :) It's always good to read novels by poets - they always use the language so elegantly.

parrish lantern said...

Hi Patrick, It's well worth the time spent locating it & if you fancy some new poetry, he's a great poet as well.

Hello Tom, If my tastes seem wide, it's merely a combination of my literary education being autodidactic & following great Blogs like your own.

Hi Tony, yeah novels by poets can go one of two ways & wax too lyrical or play with language enough to enhance without embroidering, luckily we're in good hands with this poet.

Gavin said...

I loved this one, read about it on Stu's blog. I hope Parkes write another like it.

winstonsdad said...

I enjoyed this gary I ve just read another earlier Ghanian novel from the 60's that reminded me of this a bit as that was a clash of old traditions and new ones ,all the best stu

Bellezza said...

I have so little knowledge of any books written about Africa. The novel I own is Out of Africa and that is a rather poor example as it is from a White woman's perspective. Somehow, my interests in reading internationally have been mostly with Europe and Asia, but not Africa. So, thanks for bringing this to my awareness.

parrish lantern said...

Hello Gavin, I got the heads up from Stu, but checked out Nii's poetry before getting this, as I was interested in his performance poetry.

Hi Stu, yes it was a great call, would happily read more novels by this writer, already have a couple of his poetry books.


Hi Bellezza, check it out if you get the chance, it's a great introduction into a world still new to me.

bookdout said...

Sounds intriguing!

Shelleyrae @ Book'dOut

Tom Cunliffe said...

Hi Parish - I had to look up Autodidactic, then realised I could have worked it out. How does that relate to pedagogic? I get confused sometimes

parrish lantern said...

Hi shelleyrae, its a great book, with intrigue being one of its delights.

Hi Tom, just grabbed the dictionary & pedagogics, comes from pedagogue - a teacher, a pedant - to teach. Pedagogics is the science & principles of teaching, although through the term pedant it can be used to refer to an overly educated person who parades their academic learning or values it to highly. So in relation to autodidactic, it's probably the antithesis as there is no academic learning, merely what you've picked up or discovered yourself. Hope this helps.
PS. Autodidactic, is one of my favourite words, just love the way it sounds, but more of that another time.

Kinna said...

I love his poetry. I will be reading this novel soon. And I like that more African writers do mystery and detective themes. We need more variety.

parrish lantern said...

Hi Kinna I agree his poetry is wonderful I've now acquired a couple of books now - Eyes Of a Boy & This is not a Love poem.

Lenasledgeblog.com said...

This sounds interesting. I love performance poetry, many of my friends are spoken word artist and they are very talented and creative people. I like the thought of this, it puts me in the mind of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency.