Sunday, 7 September 2008
'We have seen you from afar and we are dying of hunger'
Is the greeting used by Midnight,the Bushman, who is the title character of this story. I've been waiting to read this novel as I knew it was going to be an enormous treat and I wasn't disappointed, Richard Zimler is that rare combination of a great storyteller who can write in a literary, yet, accessible style, which is emotional without being overly sentimental. John Zarco Stewart, the main protagonist, is an engaging and complex character, whose relationships with his family and friends, Daniel, Violeta and especially Midnight, the African John's father rescues from slavery, dominate his life and the story. I've been on an emotional journey with John as he crossed continents and comes to term with his own humanity and that of those whose surround him.
Zimler's prose and magical mixing of history and fiction is superb, but at the heart of the novel are his characters. Midnight, who, after a long journey, drinks so much that his belly swells to near bursting. John, whose family is destroyed by an act of betrayal
Superb and never mawkish, this novel travels from nineteenth century Porto, to London and then to the US and, the southern US sections of this novel portray the evils of slavery. But the ultimate message of this novel is that redemption that comes through love and the power of freedom.