Descent Into Darkness
This week, The Minerva Review features ​​Descent Into Darkness by Edem Awumey (Mawenzi House Publishers). 

About the book:

Ito Baraka is going to die. In Gatineau, far from the sun, in a dark, shabby flat he shares with his Native girlfriend, Kimi. But before he can die, he has a book to finish, in which he recounts events in a country where the suns burns, burns the skin, burns the brain, burns the retina of those forced to look at it without blinking. A country where another sun blazes: a dictator in the grips of fear. Is magic not the most dangerous form of subversion? Ito makes the acquaintance of blind Koli Lem. In the middle of the blackest night, in the words they share, in their very flesh, they become each other's sole source of light.
 
My thoughts:
 
Wow. This book just blew me away. Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness meets The Narrow Road to the Deep North (Richard Flanagan's Winner of the 2014 Man Booker Prize) meets The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaño.

Bleak, yes, with its visceral descriptions of man's unfathomably extensive ability to torture and destroy his fellowmen. 

The poetical lyricism of the work intensifies the power of the horror of the story being told. The prose is an unflinching spotlight that shines directly into that morass of unspeakable events. 

One of the most powerful works I have read this year. Let's try to give this book the attention I truly feel it deserves. 

And kudos to the translators, Phyllis Aronoff & Howard Scott. A wonderful job. 

Excerpts:

" 'A word is a dead body that aspires you to resurrection.' Writing as a matter of dead flesh that you stroke with your pen in order to get a sound, an echo, out of it." ... "His words resonated, as if a breach had been opened up in a reinforced concrete sky, and like wound-up clocks we were driven to act, to find a way to enter the corpses of the words (Sony) had resuscitated."

"Is that why you wrote books?"
"Yes. That's what Koli suggested. And I got caught up in it, one book, one play after another."
"Why?"
"It was a way to keep talking to someone."

"The question to ask yourself was rather this one: "Of what night of the world are you the fruit? The one in which love, in the scent of a woman, gives you wings, or the one that keeps your eyes constantly fixed on nothingness, a hell long ago deserted by Eurydice and everything that has the face of tenderness. How, with what words, will you describe your night?"




"And if a writer has genuine star quality, a sharper, deeper radiance than most, then he or she ought to be identified and celebrated without delay. 
Time may be of the essence. Margaret Macpherson, a relatively unknown Maritime-born Albertan, is such a writer, and Body Trade, her seventh book and second novel, is the proof. She writes with the psychological insight of Carol Shields, the gravitas of Margaret Atwood, the poetic reflexes of Earl Birney and the earthy eroticism of Leonard Cohen, but her voice remains uniquely her own."  
Lesley Hughes, Winnipeg Free Press