Posted by: Matt | September 24, 2007

Making the List

I always feel lazy on Sundays, this time I let it get the best of me and didn’t do my usual post. So here it is, officially 8 hours late. Two books to add this week, two pretty darn new books.

  • Wizard of the Crow by Ngugi Wa’Thiong’O – “The fictional Republic of Aburiria chronicled in this sprawling, dazzling satirical fable is an exaggeration of sordid African despotism. At the top, a grandiose Ruler with “the power to declare any month in the year the seventh month” and his sycophantic cabinet plan to climb to heaven with a modern-day Tower of Babel funded by the Global Bank; beneath them, a cabal of venal officials and opportunistic businessmen jockey for a piece of the pie; at the bottom are the unemployed masses who wait in endless lines behind every help-wanted sign. Kamiti, an archetypal New Man with two university degrees and no job prospects, sets up shop as a wizard; with the help of Nyawira, member of both an underground dissident movement and a feminist dance troupe, he dispenses therapeutic sorcery to a citizenry that finds witchcraft less absurd than everyday life. Kenyan novelist Thiong’o (Petals of Blood) mounts a nuanced but caustic political and social satire
    of the corruption of African society, with a touch of magical realism—or, perhaps, realistic magic, as the wizard’s tricks hinge on holding a not-so-enchanted mirror to his clients’ hidden self-delusions. The result is a sometimes lurid, sometimes lyrical reflection on Africa’s dysfunctions—and possibilities.” It seems that I’ve been into books about Africa lately, but then I’ve had an interest in Africa for a number of years now. This has gotten excellent reviews.
  • Bad Monkeys by Matt Ruff – “Jane Charlotte is a self-confessed member of The Department for the Final Disposition of Irredeemable Persons. Or is she? In a series of sessions with a psychotherapist in the Las Vegas County Jail nut wing, Jane tells the story of her early life in San Francisco and her assimilation into the Bad Monkeys, an organization devoted to fighting evil. Crazy or sane, Jane is still a murderer, whether she used a weapon like the NC gun, which kills someone using Natural Causes, or more prosaic weaponry. Still, nothing is quite what it seems as Jane’s initial story of tracking a serial killer janitor comes under scrutiny and the initial facts about her brother, Phil, get turned on their head. At times the twists are enough to give the reader whiplash.” I just learned about Matt Ruff recently and I purchased one of his books when I was on vacation in Washington.This sounds like my kind of quirky, bizarre novel. Another thing Ruff has going for him is he’s a Seattle native, and that’s always a good thing.


  1. Have you read The Fate of Africa by Martin Meredith? It’s non-fic, about all of the African nations since the 1950s, and I found it very interesting.

    Thanks for posting about the Kenyan author-I tend to read more West African lit, so it’ll be good to branch out. 🙂

  2. I tried to get a copy of Bad Monkeys from the Harper Collins First Look program, but no dice!! I think it looks like a great read!

  3. Eva – I have not read that book or heard of it. But I just added it to my TBR list, it sounds good. Thanks for the recommendation!

    Stephanie – I totally missed out on that on the First Look program because at the time I didn’t know who Matt Ruff was and I had a hard time getting a feel for what the book was about with the description they provided.

  4. I just bought THE WIZARD OF THE CROW a few weeks back (I’ve been looking for it for months!), but I’ve dipped into enough to know that it promises to be an…interesting ride.

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