Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Publisher's Weekly Review of TAIL OF THE BLUE BIRD

Tail of the Blue Bird
At the beginning of award-winning Ghanaian writer Parkes's debut novel, life in the quiet village of Sonokrom is disrupted by a minister's girlfriend in a short skirt "whose eyes would not lie still." Arriving by car, she follows a stench--and a hunch--into the abandoned hut of a man named Kofi Atta, and the narrator of these early pages, hunter Opanyin Poku, follows. So many maggots swarm the remains; "the hut was filled with their buzzing." The case draws the attention of a power-hungry inspector who forces Kayo, a talented young forensic pathologist, into service, pairing him with the able Constable Garba. Kayo is able to gain the confidence of a local medicine man so that he can collect research samples while still respecting traditions. He's alarmed by oddities related to the case, like a blue bird feather that appears when the remains are burned. But the inspector isn't interested in oddities; he wants a "CSI-style report." A beguiling exploration of the power of storytelling--ancient stories and humble, modern and official. "On this earth," Kayo learns, "we have to choose the story we tell, because it affects...how we live." (Jan.)
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