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.
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.