Book :Hear me alone.
Author: Thando Mgqolozana
South African writer Thando Mgqolozana was first known for his book A man is not man about a botched circumcision and how it all turned out for the poor chap. Rave reviews all round although I have been unable to get a copy of it here in Nairobi.
The second book by the gentleman is Hear Me Alone and this one is a retelling of the story of the birth of Jesus Christ. I have had a bit of experience with books that give modern renditions of the bible. The 66 books project for instance sees writers from around the world give their version of each of the books in the bible.
My favourite of these types of books has to be After Me, The Deluge by David Forrest. In the book a young priest in a tiny French village receives a telephone call from God commanding him to build an Ark for a flood that is set to destroy the world very soon. It is one of the funniest books I have ever read with its eccentric villagers including a massive, ex-para, whore-mongering, poorly endowed barman, an officious policeman and a pompous mayor helping construct the Ark.
Seeing as that book had me laugh so I wanted to pee myself I was quite excited when I got a hold of the Thando Mgqolozana’s Here me Alone. That story is a retelling of the nativity scene that many of us have experienced that shows the birth of Jesus Christ in a manger so many years ago.
The story is told as a narrative to a person called Theophilus much like you see Paul in the bible writing his letters to the different parts of the world about Christianity like to the Thessalonians, Corinthians, Galatians et al. This made me feel like I was reading the Bible (not the newer versions mind you) as I was introduced to the characters in the book.
It was slow stuff initially but as I started understanding the content and its double meanings I really got into it. Hear me alone or hear me alones for instance I understood to be spirits while praying together I got to be
doing the nasty making love.
The writer had spent sometime doing their research for the book and it is evident with the intimate knowledge of the way that those who lived in that part of the world so many years ago.
The characters are fully formed and hilarious; the seer who had the problem of the permanent hard on because of a medical concoction gone wrong made me smile. The village watcher goes around drawing on the ground what he has seen which was usually not good made me laugh.
The main protagonist is Epher who had left his home town of Nazareth to learn to be a surgeon. He has only recently returned and had started helping the community when he was thrown in a cell for months because it is assumed he had impregnated a young woman who was promised someone else. This was frowned upon in Israel in those days. The evidence being used to keep him in jail was that he had been seen carrying the lass on the night it was assumed that she had become with child. With the help of some strange phenomena that Mulder and Scully would have a real interest in investigating, he escapes and goes to meet the king was born.
What I didn’t like was that while the bible thing made me familiar with tale instantly, I wasn’t expecting any really new twists to the tale as we are all familiar with the tale of the birth of that Jesus fellow (in my neck of the woods).
Do I recommend this book? Its a bit heavy for the 50 shades of grey enthusiast but it is really good writing in there so I’d say pick it up if you can.