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Publishers Weekly (starred): "Holding delivers another powerful tale of guilt and responsibility."

Date: Aug 25 2011

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Of Beasts and Beings

Ian Holding. Europa (Penguin, dist.), $15 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-1-60945-054-0

 

Zimbabwean writer Holding (Unfeeling) delivers another powerful tale of guilt and responsibility set in a dystopian Africa. This time out he cleaves the stories of two different people: one an unnamed character who is captured, shackled to a cart, and forced to drag it across a corpse-littered wasteland; the other a white teacher adrift in the country of his birth, who no longer believes he has a claim to his home. The first desolate journey is marked by fear, violence, thirst, and emotional depravity, as a man and two boys force their captive to transport a pregnant woman to an unknown destination; they are unable to act humanely to anyone along the way. The second is equally raw and relentless, playing out in the pages of the white schoolteacher’s journal as he sells his house and prepares to leave his homeland forever. These disparate characters and threads eventually converge, greatly increasing the moral stakes. Holding cleverly implicates the reader in the discrimination and dehumanization that has taken place in his abstract tale, casting us as collaborators in the tragedies playing out across Africa. (Nov.)