I think the title drew me to the novel, but I wouldn't have expected to enjoy it as much as I have. The voices that the narrators give to the voices that Nicole Krauss created are perfect. Though I found the voice of Alma irritating at times, it is the right voice for the character. Leo Gursky's humor is priceless and his pain is palpable. The manner with which all the novel's characters are connected seems extraordinary and improbable and yet completely plausible at the same time.
The Tuaregs don't come off very well in this fascinating book. Neither do the Fulanis. It's amazing to me that anyone survived the waring factions and the extreme conditions related in this story. The writing itself is a nice mix of historical fact and personal narrative. It's not to long, and it's quite engaging. I love Barth's against-the-grain perspective that Africa wasn't just a blank slate of a land full of unsophisticated heathens just needing European saviors! He clearly thought well of the peoples as complex intricate kingdoms/civilizations that he was just there to learn about. Unfortunately, he also had the task of negotiating trade relationships with the leaders, but it's almost as though that were an afterthought for him. The narrator is mostly wonderful, particularly at pronunciation of a wide variety of place and person names. But in a few places his voice got a little to strident for my preference. It wasn't enough to be distracting for too long, though.
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