Excerpt from The Names of Things by John Colman Wood, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Names of Things

by John Colman Wood

The Names of Things by John Colman Wood
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Paperback:
    Apr 2012, 276 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


Nuyas, he said. Let’s go.

Silence broken, Ali’s talk soon outpaced the man’s ill-remembered language. By afternoon they were walking again mostly in silence, smiling at each other, noting familiar kinds of tree or bush, stopping to chew and to wonder aloud how much longer.

Even before they reached Abudo’s camp it was too dark to see, and he kept the path by following the camels’ silhouettes against the stars. All day the windblown sand had chafed his skin. His neck and arms and calves prickled with sunburn. His feet, which had taken a beating on the rocks, ached. He walked with a sort of double limp, so as not to put full weight on either sole. He’d grown soft in his years away, unused to walking far in sandals. He’d filleted a big toe on an acacia stump first thing, and the blood made his right sandal sticky. In the gloom that evening, he stumbled and reopened the wound. He could feel the slick fresh blood. He cursed himself for coming.

Then he heard the camp noises. Faint, windblown sounds. Clatter of pots. Wooden camel bells. Tinny voices of women and children, like old songs on the radio. He smelled wood smoke and dust and the musky odors of large animals.

As he remembered it, the camp was a collection of some twenty tents, sixty or seventy people, four or five hundred camels, and thousands of sheep and goats. It was pitched now at Toricha, a place of gnarled thorn scrub below the hills of Badda Hurri, far to the north of where they’d started. He remembered Toricha from before. The sounds and smells in the night air were all familiar. But it was not the same.

Nomads never camped in the same place twice. It was their business to move, to blow with the wind. Doubtless there would be people here he knew, who remembered him. There would be others he did not know.

And there would be those he knew, and loved, who would be gone.

II

Ali handed him the rope and went alone amid the tents to announce their arrival and to find Abudo’s brother. They planned to sleep at his tent.

He remained behind in the darkness. He could see the glow and glitter of small fires within the matted tents. Here and there the beam of an electric torch sliced across the blackness to the west, where the sheep and goats would be corralled. He was glad to have arrived, glad for once not to be walking. He was hungry and thirsty and, strangely, happy for the first time in months.

Someone approached.

Ali?

The figure chuckled. A man, not Ali.

Galchumi nagaya? said the voice, a whisper within the wind, offering the greeting of night. Have the camels returned peacefully?

Nagaya. Kesan nagaya? he replied.

It was Abudo’s brother, Elema. They stood together in the darkness and exchanged the litany of greetings for evening, words you’d say to anyone: a familiar, a stranger.

Arma getani? Have you reached here?

Yagen, at’ geti? he answered. We have. Have you?

Elema took the camels’ rope, touched his arm, and led him around to the right of the tents. Elema made the camels lie on their haunches like sphinxes and left to get his wife to unload them. The front camel shook its head and snuffled and began, teeth clicking like dentures, to chew its cud.

K?t. Elema told him to follow.

He followed.

At the tent door, he offered the usual greetings to those inside.

They were answered. Elema’s wife was working over her fire. She did not come out. Two children tumbled from the tent to see the stranger. They were not old enough to know him. Light from the fire spilled out through the curtained door. The children, boy and girl, clung to their father’s legs and giggled. The father told them gruffly to bring a cow skin for the guest to lie on, which they did.

Excerpted from The Names of Things by John C Wood. Copyright © 2012 by John C Wood. Excerpted by permission of Ashland Creek Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  The Gabra People

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    The Noise of Time
    by Julian Barnes
    Confession: I do two terrible – some say unforgivable – things while reading a book. First...
  • Book Jacket
    Smoke
    by Dan Vyleta
    In Dan Vyleta's universe, set in an alternate Victorian England, people engaging in sinful thought ...
  • Book Jacket: Golden Hill
    Golden Hill
    by Francis Spufford
    Spufford brings American history to raucous life through the story of Mr. Richard Smith, a ...

Win this book!
Win The Library of Light and Shadow

The Library of Light and Shadow by M.J. Rose

"Possibly her best yet. A sensuous, sumptuous, and spellbinding novel." - Kirkus Reviews

Enter

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Almost Sisters
    by Joshilyn Jackson

    A powerful, emotionally resonant novel of the South.
    Reader Reviews

Word Play

Solve this clue:

T H Are B T O

and be entered to win..

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

A funny and acutely perceptive debut about four siblings and the fate of their shared inheritance.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.