Set in a fictional African country called Aburiria, The Wizard of the Crow draws deeply from both historical and current sociopolitical climates in Africa as we know it. Thiong’o’s personal experiences with the totalitarian regime in his home country of Kenya shine through the slightly mystical and deeply metaphorical experiences of his characters as they attempt to make their way through a society as convoluted and treacherous as anything that exists in our world. However, in spite of the complex political analogies, the book reads like a campfire tale told by a master storyteller. Important and beautiful, The Wizard of the Crow is a book that will challenge your perspective on money, power, and perspective itself.
If I had to pick one word to describe this book, it would be feral. James creates a fantastical Africa that invokes the violence and brutality of the old world, but wraps it in delicate layers of myth and magic that make the reader want to cozy up to the savagery in order to get a better look. The characters add to the effect, as they are mysterious enough to entice and real enough to despise. The sense of displacement and lack of certainty enforces the message that nothing and nobody in this world can be trusted, not even the self. If people want to call this the African Game of Thrones, I won’t necessarily argue, but I will say that the Tracker and his frenemies would make any of the big baddies in Westeros run for cover with their tail cut off
When most people think of mermaids, they think of long red hair, a talking crab, and clothing made from clamshells. While that’s a very comforting picture to paint of what lies beneath the surface of the ocean, Into the Drowning Deep is a far more realistic and terrifying portrayal of the deep sea. A scientific voyage to the Mariana Trench attempts to uncover the truth behind the legends of lost sailors and the monsters that took them under, and they end up finding exactly what they’re looking for. Imagine Ariel on meth with a mouth full of teeth and a ravenous appetite and that should give you a good idea of what to expect. Suffice to say, I won’t be swimming in the open ocean anytime soon.