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Unreliable Narrators: The Gift of Rain, Murder in the Cassava Patch, and The Hamilton Case

June 17, 2010

I don’t know about you, but I love an author who can write a novel with a tricky narrator. The kind of book that has you reading between the lines, piecing together what might have really happened, and intellectually fencing with the author the whole while. Done well, this kind of novel can make me instantly adore an author…done badly, the whole book just begins to crash and burn while I mutter complaints at the turn of every page. I’ll be talking about both kinds in this post. ;)

The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng

Let’s begin on the highest note, shall we? I loved The Gift of Rain, set in Penang primarily leading up to and during Japan’s WWII occupation. Tan Twan Eng is a Malaysian author, and my only complaint about him is that this is his debut novel, so I don’t have a backlist to explore! Anyway, the story is nested: it opens in the present-day when a Japanese woman suddenly shows up on the doorstep of our narrator Philip Hutton, now an old man, asking questions about the past. Eventually, she gets him to open up, and so most of the novel is him telling her the story, with occasional interludes in the present day. There’s definitely some unreliability going on, since after all he’s presenting his own story, but Tan Twan Eng doesn’t play tricks with the reader, so it’s not on the extreme end of unreliable narration. It’s more that Tan Twan Eng uses Philip’s personal viewpoint to help add shades to the moral issues under question in the book. What I’m trying to say is that this is a solid read, combining memorable characters with a page-turning plot with lyrical writing with an interesting setting while still managing to challenge the reader with ethical questions. So if you’re not the biggest fan of unreliable narrators, don’t be scared off: I still urge you to pick this up!

I’m unsure how precisely to discuss the book, since all of the challenges it posed to me are bound up in a plot that’s only slowly revealed over time. I went into it without knowing anything, and that certainly helped me turn the pages all the more quickly! There’s enough foreshadowing at the beginning for us to know that some people on Penang regard Philip as a traitor while others see him as a saviour, but I can’t get into the nitty gritty questions, and the breathtaking way Tan Twan Eng handles them, without spoiling the plot. So y’all should all go read this, and then come back and we can all talk about it! What I will say is that The Gift of Rain transcends its particulars…while it’s firmly set in the reality of WWII (and did y’all know all the horrible things Japan did in its occupation of the Malay peninsula? my eyes were definitely opened), the issues of loyalty and honour and love are the same ones each of us must struggle with in our day-to-day lives, although in less extreme situations (I hope!). While I was reading The Gift of Rain, I lived, breathed, and dreamed Philip’s world…’s that kind of book. And I unreservedly recommend it to anyone as a marvelous reading experience, one that will stay with you for long after you close the back cover.

Murder in the Cassava Patch by Bai T Moore

I decided to read Murder in the Cassava Patch for this month’s World Party focus since it was the only Liberian literature I could get my hands on. It’s more of a novella than a novel, and it opens with our narrator explaining he has killed a girl and is now in jail and that this is his explanation of how events led up to the murder.

So here’s the thing: I loved the peek into (pre-civil war, 1960s) Liberia the book gave me. And I think Moore is a strong writer: he drew the surroundings well and he knows how to tell a story. But ugh! The way the narrator talks about women gave me the creeps and enraged me all at once! He’s obsessed with Tene, who at 13 has just ‘ripened’ into womanhood, and he goes off to another farm in order to earn the money for her dowry so he can marry her: “the full forty dollars which is required for all virgins.” At this point in the story, he seems well-intentioned: “The only thing that mattered was whether Tene loved me.” But then Tene and her sister (Keme, who in the narrator’s eyes is the villain of the story) come to visit and he sneaks into her room in the morning, when she’s still sleeping off too much alcohol the night before, and starts to ‘play with her’ while she’s still unconscious. When she wakes up, he tries to manipulate her into letting him, which in my eyes is not the sign of someone in love but someone in lust. At this point, I loathed the narrator and kept rooting for Tene to get away, even if I knew what would happen to her in the end.

The story continues in a kind of Greek tragedy fashion…from the way our narrator tells it, he’s always the victim being taken advantage of by an unscrupulous Keme, but I couldn’t really believe that. And there’s this whole ‘the uppity women deserved to be punished’ feel to the novella that was upsetting, to say the least. Keme and Tene (assuming she knew what her sister was doing, which even though the narrator doesn’t see that, makes the most sense to me as a reader) are trying to get an much independence as they can using the only means open to them, which I certainly don’t think makes them evil. I can’t say that this is an enjoyable read…it left me wanting to take a shower and scrub myself clean, but it is a worthwhile one. I can’t tell whether Moore’s views of women line up with his narrators or not, which is part of why I found it so disturbing. If you’d like to read it for yourself, Jill found it freely available online (I ILLed a hard copy).

The Hamilton Case by Michelle de Kretser

I started out loving The Hamilton Case. It begins being told by Sam Obeysekere, an incredibly unreliable narrator. While Sam was i ntellectually cocky and paternalistic and cold and sleazy and gross (there are a ton of broad hints that, for me at least, point straight to him sexually abusing his younger sister, but Kretser never comes out and confirms/denies it), I still had so much fun reading between the lines to gather evidence. I was mentally applauding Kretser for trusting the reader this much and quite happy about the whole thing. But then, the narrator abruptly switches to a kind of limited 3rd person. But the 3rd person keeps shifting around, and often it shifts to Sam. What the heck?! I think shifting third person narratives is possibly the trickiest thing to pull off when telling a story, and for me Kretser just ruined all of her earlier work. I mean, once I’ve been reading Sam’s own words and looking past them to see the truth, I don’t suddenly need a narrator telling me his innermost thoughts…it just doesn’t work. And once I’ve seen all of the people in the story through Sam’s eyes, suddenly popping into their heads doesn’t work either. I kept hoping we’d get back to that first person unreliable narrative thing Kretser was doing so well, but that never happened. Honestly, I think the narrative tone shift ruined the book for me…it was so extreme, I just couldn’t reconcile the two bits of the book, and it felt sloppy. I wish her editor had sat her down and told her to pick one style or the other and stick with it.

Also, while I could see what Kretser was trying to do, exploring the intersection of murder mysteries as literature and real-life murders, I don’t think she got there. So I became a bit impatient with her. If she had only kept herself to Sam’s voice, this would have worked perfectly, as would her focus on the horrible things that British colonisation does to its colonies (and a side exploration of the ‘exotic’ in literature), as would her gothic-y feeling deep, dark family secrets bit of the book. Oh, this book could have been one of my favourite reads of the year. But alas, it wasn’t, and it makes me more than a little sad to contemplate. :( I can’t recommend this one, although I can’t help dreaming about how glorious it could have been.

Do you enjoy unreliable narrators? I’m thinking about doing a list of books featuring them: got anything to contribute?

73 Comments leave one →
  1. June 17, 2010 9:42 am

    I love unrealiable narrators. They tend to make me think more than one who is wholly familiar and trustworthy. On an emotional level, I actually like being confronted by an unreliable – and unlikeable – character. Someone like Humbert Humbert from Lolita (though I find him reliable, mostly). I have a complete mental blank though, thinking of truly unreliable narrators. There is the ultimate one in the YA book Liar of course. The entire novel revolves around the fact that she’s unreliable, so which version of events is true? It’s like a puzzle!

    Which of these was an Aussie book? (noticed it in tags) I’m guessing the last book – which I’m now interested in reading, despite the fact that you can’t recommend it!!

    • July 20, 2010 1:57 am

      Humbert Humbert is so intense! I haven’t read Liar…is it good? And yep: The Hamilton Case is the Aussie book! ;)

  2. June 17, 2010 10:06 am

    I can’t think of any I have read with unreliable authors. I suppose The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry is the only one I can think of. I like the sound of The Gift of Rain, your review pulled me right in. Completely put off by the last one though, especially if he was abusing his sister. I just can’t read books like that anymore, they upset me too much.

    • July 20, 2010 1:57 am

      Gift of Rain is marvelous: I hope you get to it!

  3. June 17, 2010 11:20 am

    I also LOVE unreliable narrators. Ahem, you know what book has an AWESOME unreliable narrator? Wish Her Safe at Home by Stephen Benatar! Not sure if I have mentioned that book before ;-)

    Michael Cox’s The Meaning of Night has a somewhat unreliable narrator as well.

    I am not sure that any of these books appeal to me to an extent that I will put them on my wish list, but as you seem fairly ambivalent about them, I guess that’s ok :-)

    • July 20, 2010 1:58 am

      It’s not my fault my library doesn’t have the Benatar! Otherwise I would’ve already read it!

      Gift of Rain as awesome: you should put that one on your list!

  4. June 17, 2010 11:50 am

    I love love unreliable narrators, must be the mystery reader in me :) And I haven´t heard or read these three, The Gift of Rain sounds great. So I´m very excited you´re thinking of making a list of books featuring unreliable narrators! Some examples that I can remember at the moment:
    The Behaviour of Moths (Poppy Adams)
    We have always lived in the Castle (Shirley Jackson)
    a certain famous one by Mrs Christie but I guess naming it would be a spoiler ;)
    Heart of Darkness (Joseph Conrad)
    Never Let me Go (Kazuo Ishiguro)
    Fight Club (Chuck Palahniuk)
    The Secret History (Donna Tartt)

    I´m out ;)

    • July 20, 2010 1:59 am

      I know exactly which Miss Christie you’re thinking of. ;) Your list is great: the only one I haven’t read is the Poppy Adams, so now I’m definitely intrigued!

  5. June 17, 2010 12:10 pm

    And I love unreliable narrators. Especially when their perceptions are countered by the reactions of those around them. Recently re-read My Cousin Rachel which features one of my favorite unreliables.

    • July 20, 2010 1:59 am

      I didn’t connect w My Cousin Rachel the way I have with every other du Maurier I’ve read…but I also read it at a difficult time in my life, so it sounds like I need to revisit it!

  6. June 17, 2010 12:23 pm

    I was about to echo the theme here and say that I love unreliable narrators too. Then I started to wonder if, when it comes to first-person narratives, there is any such thing as a reliable narrator. It’s a phrase and idea that I’ve tossed around for many years, but maybe all these first-person narrators that I’ve so enjoyed (it’s one of my favourite POVs) are unreliable in their own way…

    • July 13, 2010 2:22 pm

      You have a really good point. Even the most honest and well-intentioned narrator will leave things out or fail to recognize the importance of certain facts. That said, if the narrator is too unreliable, I find it irritating. It feels as if the author is abusing me by undermining my trust.

    • July 20, 2010 2:00 am

      I suppose that’s a good point! I guess I love the really unreliable ones. lol

  7. June 17, 2010 12:34 pm

    Couple of classic ones to throw into the ring: Odysseus (The Odyssey version) and John Dowell from Ford Madox Ford’s The Good Soldier. It’s often missed that almost all of what Odysseus recalls from his wanderings after the Trojan War are not corroborated by any other figure; either he was alone (Calypso, et al) or the people he was with have died by the end (The lotus eaters, The Cyclops, etc), so it’s quite possible that it is all another of his useful inventions to get what he wants.

    Dowell, on the other hand, is probably unintentionally unreliable. His recounting of the collapse of the Ashburnham marriage is so colored by his affection for obsession with them that it’s never easy to tell if he’s giving us the story straight. It’s an wonderful experiment in narrative subjectivity and one of my favorite works of English modernism

    • July 15, 2010 4:09 am

      Another important hint about Odysseus’ unreliability. He constantly makes up stories about this past in order to disguise his true identity. He does this readily and no two stories are quite the same, although they have common elements. So why should we believe anything he says?

    • July 20, 2010 2:00 am

      What a fun way to look at The Odyssey you two! I’m due for a reread soon, so I’ll keep that in mind. :)

      The Good Soldier has been on my radar for awhile, but it sounds like it needs to move up the TBR list!

  8. June 17, 2010 12:54 pm

    Oh please make a list! I do enjoy fiction with an unreliable narrator because I think it can force you to think a bit more about the ending and of course come to your own conclusion.

    One I’ve really liked was An Instance at the Fingerpost by Ian Pears (sp?). A long book, a bit slow but really worth the read.

    • July 20, 2010 2:02 am

      Thanks to all of the lovely commentators, I’ll definitely be making a list! You know…I tried read Fingerpost back in 2007 and didn’t manage to read it all. I gave up after the first couple narrators; their attitudes towards women were both so distasteful.

  9. selena permalink
    June 17, 2010 12:57 pm

    Unreliable narrators are my favourites!

    My two recent examples are below:
    Notes on a Scandal by Zoe Heller
    Atmospheric Disturbances by Rivka Galchen

    I’d love to sit down and have a post to discuss these!

    • July 20, 2010 2:03 am

      Oh I haven’t read either of those! Although I did see the movie version of Notes on a Scandal: soooo good.

  10. June 17, 2010 2:07 pm

    I do enjoy unreliable narrators, though at the moment I am drawing a blank in trying to think of any… hmmm… I am kind of intrigued by Murder in the Cassanova Patch, though it sounds creepy and I have a feeling I would be disgusted as well, from what you say!

  11. June 17, 2010 2:26 pm

    LOL The first one I thought of is probably the one Bina is referring to by Agatha Christie. :)

    • July 20, 2010 2:04 am

      I know! And it’s one of the best unreliable narrators ever, but how do I put it on the list without giving things away?!

  12. June 17, 2010 3:24 pm

    Just pop in to say I’m glad you like The Gift of Rain. Some of my relatives live to tell the tale about Japanese occupation in Malaya and thanks to people like Tan Twang Eng, the beautiful colonial buildings and bungalows in Penang are preserved as part of Penang’s identity.

    • July 20, 2010 2:04 am

      I’m so glad your relatives survived the occupation. :( I definitely want to visit Penang one day: it sounds incredible!

  13. June 17, 2010 5:28 pm

    I like reliable narrators but they take a very crafty author for them to work effectively.

    The main character of The Lace Reader starts off by noting that she lies which made for an interesting book (even though in the end I don’t believe she was a liar).

    Nick from Great Gatsby is always noted as an unreliable narrator but I don’t really remember why.

    Benjy from The Sound and the Fury is mentally retarded–he provides the first of four narratives in the book. Actually, all the narrators are more or less unreliable in that one.

    I just finished with Wuthering Heights and found Nelly to be an unreliable narrator!

    LOL–sorry for hijacking your comments. I’ve always love narratology.

    • July 20, 2010 2:05 am

      Totally true on crafty authors! I’ve never been able to actually get through The Sound and the Fury…I haven’t tried since high school though. I think Nelly’s an unreliable narrator as well!

  14. June 17, 2010 5:45 pm

    I am excited to see your list of books with unreliable narrators! I’m sure you already have We Have Always Lived in the Castle and The Haunting of Hill House on it. The Thief, I have maybe mentioned once or twice recently. :p And Clare Allan’s Poppy Shakespeare, which I read recently. And obviously the classics ones like Lolita and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

    • July 20, 2010 2:05 am

      You better believe Shirley Jackson will be on there! :DI haven’t read Poppy Shakespeare…off to find out what it’s about.

  15. Mome Rath permalink
    June 18, 2010 12:20 am

    I guess it depends on the unreliable narrator — I really disliked The Famished Road because I didn’t enjoy the kid’s constant visions and abstract view of time (though the book was well-written). But I did like the unreliable narrator in that Agatha Christie mystery folks keep mentioning. And, I’ll plug The Thief, too — great story.
    Also, Life of Pi has a very thought-provoking ending, although the narrator may be too self-aware to be unreliable…

    • July 20, 2010 2:06 am

      I haven’t read Famished Road, but I did read Song of the Night which sounds a bit similar and adored it. Have you ead any Abani? And yes: that Christie is awesome!

      I can’t decide if Life of Pi has an unreliable narrator…if so it’s very deliberate. *ponders*

  16. June 18, 2010 6:29 am

    I remember reading about The Gift of Rain sometime last year. I forgot what it was about, but the snippet intrigued me enough to want to read it. Unreliable narrator doesn’t exactly scare me off, but it depends on whether I can spot the unreliability.

  17. June 18, 2010 7:27 am

    I’ve got The Gift of Rain on my shelf, can’t wait to read it as I’ve heard lots of good things about it. I love unreliable narrators too and I think Dr. Faraday in Sarah Waters’ The Little Stranger is pretty unreliable…

    I’m sorry you didn’t like The Hamilton Case. I loved it for its style and Kretser’s use of language, but I agree that it sort of got a bit blurry at the end.

    • July 20, 2010 2:14 am

      I can’t wait to get to The Little Stranger! :D

      I was sad that I didn’t end up enjoying Hamilton Case either…I definitely felt inspired by Kretser’s language though, so I’m still curious about her other books!

  18. June 18, 2010 10:45 am

    I love unreliable narrators! The first book that comes to mind is The Watsons Go to Birmingham–1963, by Christopher Paul Curtis. It’s a children’s book, and the narrator, Kenny, is a young African American boy who grew up in Michigan but goes down south to Birmingham to visit with his family. Great stuff.

  19. June 18, 2010 2:06 pm

    The unreliable narrator that comes to my mind is the governess in Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw.

  20. June 18, 2010 5:31 pm

    I’ve had “The Gift of Rain” on my shelf for a while. I think I’ll pick it up after reading your review.

  21. Michelle permalink
    June 20, 2010 3:15 am

    SO so glad you enjoyed The Gift of Rain. It is still one of my favourite books so far, and of course, it being written by a Malaysian author only makes it more special for me. I think one of the strongest points of the book and the storytelling is that Tan doesn’t tell you what is right or wrong, ethically or morally. As a reader, you’ve got to make up your own mind about whether the characters made the right decisions, and all that based on one person’s point of view. LOVED the book. =)

    • July 20, 2010 2:15 am

      I definitely loved it too: thanks so much for the rec!

  22. jane permalink
    June 20, 2010 11:31 am

    I love books where you really have to get to grips with who the narrator is. The less reliable the better! (er, to a point…). Ford Madox Ford’s the Good Soldier has already been mentioned and is a wonderful book as well as a good example – I’ve just read it and it left me on such a high. Heart of Darkness. Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day. I’m sure there are more The Gift of Rain sounds brilliant, thanks for the review!

    • July 20, 2010 2:16 am

      I loved both Heart of Darkness and Remains of the Day! It sounds like I really need to give The Good Soldier a try. :)

  23. June 22, 2010 2:57 am

    Loved these mini reviews! I am a sucker for WWII stories and The Gift of Rain sounds amazing. I will definitely see if I can get hold of this book. Too bad The Hamilton Case didn’t work for you :(

    • July 20, 2010 2:17 am

      Definitely go for Gift of Rain if you enjoy WWII stuff!! And I’m so glad you enjoyed the format; I always feel like I’m giving the books short shrift when I do mini reviews. But better than nothing eh?

  24. June 22, 2010 7:32 pm

    One of my favourite unreliable narrators is Offred from Atwood’s _The Handmaid’s Tale_. Richard Parker is also a great example, from Martel’s _Life of Pi_. The third-person narrator of McEwan’s _Atonement_ is unreliable, which is unusual. And, of course, the narrator of _The Remains of the Day_.

    Fun topic! Can’t wait to see the list.

    • July 20, 2010 2:18 am

      I’ve read and enjoyed all the books you mentioned! I agree that McEwan’s twist was definitely unusual. :D

  25. June 26, 2010 6:26 am

    And Engleby, by Sebstian Faulks. Have you tried that one? It’s quite a departure from his WW1 books, e.g. Birdsong, but I enjoyed it very much.

    • July 20, 2010 2:18 am

      I actually haven’t read any Faulks! But Engleby sounds quite intriguing. :)

  26. June 26, 2010 2:37 pm

    “intellectually fencing with the author” — what a great phrase, Eva! I’m on the fence with unreliable narrators; I like them when the story is well-done and I don’t feel manipulated, but I dislike the feeling that I’ve being on the recieving end of ‘mind games’

    • July 20, 2010 2:19 am

      Thanks Dawn! I always feel manipulated when the author does things like include cancer/sexual abuse/etc. in the story for no apparent reason other than to make me cry. Funny how we all feel differently about the mind games! :)

  27. June 28, 2010 11:55 am

    I love unreliable narrators. I love it when a novel defies morality, and demands the reader to make a decision. London Fields, for one, is fantastic. There’s nothing better than a vague, contradictory narrative. Of course, as you said, done wrong… it doesn’t quite have the desired results. :)

    • July 20, 2010 2:26 am

      So true Lydia! I haven’t heard of London Fields: off to look it up. :)

  28. June 29, 2010 7:23 am

    I love unreliable narrators.

    Or do I?

  29. July 9, 2010 1:49 pm

    I have been a lurker here for quite some time. I always enjoy your book choices and I too love unreliable narrators.

    • July 20, 2010 2:27 am

      Thanks for leaving a comment Yolanda! I’m so glad you enjoy my blog. :)

  30. kimberlyloomis permalink
    July 12, 2010 8:38 pm

    Wow. You just added more to my TBR list! I don’t know that I hold much stock in unreliable narrators. This is perhaps due to the complete coincidence in not recalling having read works written in such a fashion at the time of the reading.

    The first work you mentioned sounds wonderfully intriguing. Admittedly, I have little knowledge of what occurred during WWII (besides the more wide spread bits) and recently finished “The Piano Teacher” which was set in Hong Kong during WWII (kind of). It has my mind thirsting for knowing more. Thank you for the reviews. :)

    • July 20, 2010 2:27 am

      I’m pretty clueless on WWII stuff except for how it relates to larger international relations things (sooo…the Middle East, say), and I found Gift of Rain very enlightening.

  31. July 14, 2010 4:44 pm

    The first title that comes to mind with an unreliable narrator is The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson. It’s a really great book. I should actually re-read it.

    • July 20, 2010 2:28 am

      Thanks for the rec! I’ve never heard of that one. :)

  32. July 16, 2010 10:16 am

    How do we trust? I enjoy discussions of unreliable narrators, because it revolves around that question. And I’m smiling because “Gift of Rain” might also be a perfect title for my work, half a world away.

    • July 20, 2010 2:28 am

      So true. And I hope The Gift of Rain helps you!

  33. July 17, 2010 12:29 pm

    I am a huge fan of unreliable narrators, though, as someone has said, it takes real skill to write a great novel with an unreliable narrator. My list of, let’s say, ten favorite novels with unreliable narrators:

    1. Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov (totally unreliable, is Kinbote a king or delusional?)
    2. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (another where the unreliability is more subtle, but this is one of the most brilliant books ever, so if it qualifies, it is in)
    3. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (absolutely hilarious, in great part because we can understand parts of the story our juvenile narrator cannot)
    4. The Great Gatsby (astoundingly tight in its construction and with nicely subtle use of Nick’s unreliability)
    5. Summertime by J.M. Coetzee (unreliable in a different way, the book is in the form of interviews with people who have known John Coetzee, the famous poet, who is dead; very original twist on unreliable narrators)
    6. Pnin by Vladimir Nabokov (very subtly, but effectively, done)
    7. Number9Dream by David Mitchell (often hard to tell if the hero relating fantasy or reality)
    8. The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford (mentioned above)
    9. City of Glass by Paul Auster (absolutely confusing, in a good way, very tightly written)
    10. Atonement by Ian McEwan (I really enjoyed the twist at the end, though there are suggestions he may have ripped (riffed) off William Maxwell)

    I do agree with those who say there is no real possibility of an objective narrator, but some narrators and authors may not really realize that. Some books are told as what happened, others recognize or use the unavoidable ambiguity or shading of any story, told by no matter whom.

    Perhaps because I love Nabokov, I really enjoy novels that use unreliable narration with skill and deep purpose. Or maybe it’s the other way around.

    Enjoyed your post and now The Gift of Rain goes on the TBR. Thanks!

    • July 20, 2010 2:30 am

      Thanks for taking the time to put together such a great list! I really enjoyed Pale Fire when I read it years ago, and I’m due for a reread of Great Gatsby and Huckleberry Finn. :) It sounds like I need to finally give David Mitchell a try! Plus The Good Soldier: it’s definitely on my 2010 list now with so many mentions! Nabokov is such a master, isn’t he?

  34. Kerryn permalink
    July 26, 2010 12:22 am

    Some of my favourites have already been mentioned – The Good Soldier, The Sound and the Fury, The Odyssey. This is a very interesting post and discussion.

  35. Kotats permalink
    December 23, 2010 9:14 am

    In looking at the character obsession with Tene in “Murder in the Cassava Patch” you also have to be cognizant about the culture connotations that are associated with the story. The author is writing about a time in Liberia history when this was the norm, that being girls getting married at a young age when their dowry was paid. I think if a similar story was written about Liberia in 2010 it would be completely different. I do however agree with you that the author effort of tricky narrating was a failure.

  36. Rob Carr permalink
    December 29, 2011 5:27 am

    I found in an old discussion in your blog about the Liberian book MURDER IN THE CASSAVE PATCH. There is another book by Liberian Author John Gay called RED DUST ON GREEN LEAVES . It is a fascinating story of tradition vs westernisation in pre-war Liberia told through 2 twins who veer in opposite directions. I was a US Peace Corps Volunteer in Liberia in the mid 80s and read most of the books of that pre-war era. RED DUST is one of my faves!

    Rob Carr


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