The Road Builder is a spellbinding story of romance and exploration. Will and Kate Haslin reach Ngemba with only the most vague idea about what life in Africa requires, and with no clear understanding about their own relationship. But they arrive with a concrete, if secret, goal: to uncover the shadowy past of Kate's willful--and dying--Uncle Pers.
Lost in a vast savanna, with only a hint of common language, the young Americans must reshape themselves inside a culture without expectation. And when they learn that Uncle Pers may be The Road Builder, a mysterious figure with a colonial connection, the dangers they face turn personal.
In Ngemba, history merges with myth, fable, and even gossip so that sometimes one must hallucinate the truth. It's an isolated world of realists and visionaries, who understand that "sometimes the only way out of a place is to go further in." But most important, Ngemba is the tense, hazy village where Will and Kate learn to dream what they know.
With the seductive prose of a gifted storyteller, Nick Hershenow weaves sophisticated questions about the nature of truth and reality into the epic but very personal story of a man and a woman who must define themselves against endless mysteries.
A luminous and wise debut that heralds the arrival of a major talent.
From the Author:
When I started this book I was largely motivated by some powerful and intricate, yet still vague, sense of Africa: something to do with the mood of sitting on a porch above a river listening to the timeless sounds of the equatorial night - sounds of the physical forces and creatures and humans and spirits that inhabit the night. A mood of intense beauty, sensuality, and spirituality, but in the context of a sorrowful history and destructive politics and truly outrageous injustice and inequity. This sense carried through the long writing of the book, and I hope the reader will find that it ultimately crystallized into a distinctive vision of Africa, an evocative adventure and love story, and a compelling exploration of memory, history, and the creation of myth.
Deathbed, Tea, Wife
This morning Uncle Pers rose out of his deathbed to join us for tea.
We hear him shuffling out of the dark cluttered recesses of his house. We hear the slow thumping of his walker in the hallway, and when the thumping pauses we hear his rattling breaths. Then he emerges into the sitting room, blinking and squinting like some pale wrinkled creature of the underground, stopping to shade his eyes against the light reflected off the pastel buildings and the bay and the arid blue sky.
"His will to live is phenomenal!" Aunt Mavis says emotionally, though exactly what emotion she is expressing is hard to say.
I should clarify "deathbed." He has been lying there for weeks, but it became clear some time ago that he was not about to die in it. And now he is up and coming to tea. But no one is fooled into thinking that the deathwatch is over. Uncle Pers is old and very sick, and any recovery he makes will be short-lived; within days, weeks at best, he'...
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