Book 16, The Tomorrow-Tamer (1963) – Margaret Laurence
From the back cover:
“The ten stories gathered together in The Tomorrow-Tamer are Margaret Laurence’s first published fiction. Set in raucous and often terrifying Ghana, where shiny Jaguars and modern jazz jostle for eminence against fetish figures, tribal rites, and the unchanging beat of jungle drums, the stories tell of individuals, European and African, trying to come to terms with the frightening world brought about by the country’s new freedom.
With the same compassion and understanding she would bring to her later fiction set in Canada, Laurence succeeds brilliantly in capturing the atmosphere of a continent and of individual men and women struggling for survival under the impact of the wind of change.”
I really enjoyed these stories of West Africa at the twilight of European colonialism. They are filled with ambivalence as old beliefs and traditions die away as the modern world invades/is embraced. It’s a very difficult situation (and we see it everywhere, not just in the colonies of Europe). With modern science and the global monoculture, we are all in a continual process of loss, as languages, stories, beliefs, habitat, tribal (or rural) lifestyle are replaced with what’s new, modern, clean, intelligible, monolithic, American (often). This is a theme that Alistair MacLeod explored in his books, though his focus was on the Gaelic culture of Cape Breton.
I’m looking forward to reading more of Margaret Laurence (coming soon to my CanLit Challenge).