Salt : Earl Lovelace

Hailed as "amazingly vivid and joyous" by The Times of London, Earl Lovelace's fifth novelSalt, an intriguing blend of contemporary and historical events in Trinidad, begins with a mythical story reminiscent of the well-known folktale "All God's Chillen Had Wings." It tells of Guinea John, who escapes slavery by flying back to Africa without revealing "the mysteries of levitation and flight" to his descendants who "had eaten salt and made themselves too heavy to fly." Even without this gift of flight, Bango, the modern-day descendant who recounts this fable, is remarkable. Handsome, athletic, captain of both the steel band and the cricket team, he is a natural-born leader with deep symbiotic ties to his community. "[T]he weakness of others demanded from him greater strength. The extravagance of others required from him greater sacrifice." He bears no small resemblance to Bolo, the stickfighting warrior in Lovelace's The Wine of Astonishment(1982), another graceful athlete who has deep ties with his African-based culture and is genuinely altruistic and empathetic. Bango's scheme to get a parcel of land in reparation for the suffering of his ancestors brings him in contact with Alford George, a leader cut from a very different cloth.

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