Major Gentl and the Achimota Wars (African Writers Series)

Author:
B. Kojo Laing

Price:
$ 25.00 (used)

Medium:
Paperback (160 pages)

Publisher:
Heinemann (Txt)
1992-06

Availability:


Editorial Description

The rebirth of Africa in the year 2020 AD is the starting point of this surrealistic novel, which pits Major Gentl against the mercenary Torro the Terrible for control of Achimoto City. The two warriors prepare for a final battle which will decide the fate of Africa's future.

Reader Reviews

Not worth it...
Kojo Laing is my homeboy. Unfortunately, I cannot recommend this book of his to anyone. It's a confusing tale of humans, animals and plants living together in a futuristic world whilst a series of 'friendly' wars are raging on. If you are taken aback by the cover of the book, you should be because once you start reading you are surely going to get confused.

I'm an avid reader of books in the African Writers Series. "Major Gentl and the Achimota Wars" does a disservice to the quality of African storytelling as evidenced by the writings of Chinua Achebe, Cyprian Ekwensi, Sembene Ousmane and other accomplished African writers. I simply don't get Laing's poetic style of writing. I cannot find any literary value to this book.

Worth the work
A disclaimer first:

I have not read this book in seven years. My recollection may be fuzzy. As far as I am aware this book was never reprinted, and I have struggled to find a copy. I have only recently found a copy in South Africa which I have bought and begun re-reading.

At any rate, I think that this book is a very worthwhile read. It is suprising, poetic and dense. The density of the writing may put people off, but it is certainly worth it. This book has qualities that are missing in much popular literature. Each page is full with imagery, wordplay and metaphor that requires real work on the part of the reader.

It feels like (in my opinion) an ancient (greek, roman, etc) mythology placed into a futuristic setting, but with all the strangeness that exists in our modern world. Surrealism prevails, but in a telling (and for its time, possibly prophetic) way.

For example, in the modern warfare described in this book, each side can only have as much army as can fit in one side of a prescribed area (like a soccer field). Because it is under the auspices of the UN, each side can only shoot into the ground during the battle, so as not to injure anyone. At lunch, all of them take a break and mingle at the supplied catering, afterwards, back to war. One of Major Gentl's cunning plans (with which he won a battle) was to remove all air suipport and require all his troops to fire into the air. The resulting confusion led to a victory.

Finally, the level of description and depth of writing is unsurpassed, though difficult, so this is not a book for someone who wants to have an easy ride.

A disclaimer with ammendments:
The above disclaimer applies. At the moment I am reading it with my wife, almost as a bedtime story kind of thing. Loving it.