Tail of the blue bird by Nii Ayikwei Parkes


Nii Ayikwei Parkes is a Ghanaian writer ,social commentator ,he was BBC radio threes writer in residence in 2005 ,he has his own web page which is full of piece of his work and spoken word performances .

Tail of the blue bird is part crime ,part social commentary ,this is a true one-off mixing the best of African fiction with crime fiction for a heady mix .the Novel centres on a rural village Sonokrom in the middle of nowhere in Ghana ,this is a place were the traditional values and customs still rule over the people of the villages .But a discovery leads to an  investigation by two outsiders from the more modern world of Accra the capital ,Kayo one of these outsiders has just returned from the UK and is a crime scene investigations ,with a scientific mind that is the complete opposite to the villagers ,the pair struggle with the case .

So we have a case in a village near Tafo that we need your help with .It is not even a case we would have bothered with, but the minister for roads and highways is sleeping with a girl from Tafo .She discovered some human matter and the minister himself called me that day to deploy some men .

As we find out the case was a favour to a minister .The man’s struggle with events that at times see unnatural almost supernatural ,flocks of birds, ghost boys ,Also the reluctant villagers add to the struggle .

The writing is wonderful Parkes manages to pull you into the men as they head to this village ,he evokes the spirit of African villages as they struggle with the old way of life and the ever-increasing modern world as mobile phones computers , western ways  creep in from the capital Accra ,but even earlier in the book we discover that Kayo struggles on his return to the capital from the UK ,as the local police don’t initially seem to keen on his CSI skills ,but later accept him and his ultra modern ideas ,even thou Kayo at times struggles with the mystery’s of Ghana’s hinterlands .

I read this for KINNA READS  GHANA WEEK ,ps sorry its late and single vol Kinna ,I would go and check her blog as she has reviewed some great African fiction in the last year .

Literary blog hop -is there such a thing as literary non fiction ?

Well what a great question and here at winstonsdad the answers is of course yes ,how do you define literary non  fiction now that is a little harder I would think because it can really be books from  any form of non fiction .The best i feel range from the english travelogues of Patrick leigh fermor ,Eric Newby and Bruce Chatein ,through to theprose style pieces of Slavenka Drakulic and Andrzej stasiuk with there writings on eatern europe .

But to sum up in one book the best it would have to be Joseph Mitchells up in the old hotel ,which I have rob of robaroundbooks to thank for .Mitchell was a wtiter for the new yorker who wrote wonderful prose on the underbelly of america from the thirties to the early nineties his portrayal of the characters and events he cane across in the less well known parts of new York and America are a fitting testament to his talent to draw the reader in .

November 2010


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