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The Hangman's Game
  • Bandtyp: Häftad
  • Språk: Engelska
  • Utgiven: 20070924
  • Antal sidor: 220
  • ISBN10:1845230469
  • ISBN13:9781845230463

The Hangman's Game


A young Guyanese woman sets out to write an historical novel based on the 1823 Demerara Slave Rebellion and the fate of an English missionary who is condemned to hang for his alleged part in the uprising, but who dies in prison before his execution. She has wanted to document historical fact through fiction, but the characters she invents make an altogether messier intrusion into her life with their conflicting interests and ambivalent motivations. As an African-Guyanese in a country where a Black ruling elite oppresses the population, she begins to wonder what lay behind her 'ancestral enslavement', why fellow Africans had 'exchanged silver for the likes of me'. As a committed Christian, she also wonders why God has allowed slavery to happen. Beset by her unruly characters and these questions, the novel is stymied. In an attempt to unblock it, she decides that she should take up a family contact to spend some time in Nigeria, to experience her African origins at first hand. For a couple of years, falling in love, marriage to a Nigerian university professor and the birth of their first child silence the characters in her head.Then the hanging of a family friend by El Presidente, Butcher Boy's murderous military regime brutally plunges her back into the world of her novel. To her consternation, one after the other, the seven main characters in the novel reveal themselves in contemporary Nigerian guise and she finds herself implicated in uncomfortably personal ways in a narrative where the distinctions between her 'life' and the 'fiction' she is writing have become utterly permeable. Almost uncontrollably, the novel begins to write itself. To try to regain the semblance of control, she falls back on a game of childhood, Hangman, which she plays with the Nigerian 'manifestation' of the most personally threatening of her characters, as a form of sympathetic magic to try to ensure her survival. Not until the last page do we know whether she succeeds. Karen King-Aribisala has written a densely layered, challengingly ambitious work of fiction. There is the actual historical novel, her thoughts about it, the drama of her life in Nigeria and the seepage between the different worlds.As such, "The Hangman's Game" has much to say about the Guyanese past and present, and the nature of postcolonial power in both Africa and the Caribbean. And, if "The Hangman's Game" is provocatively post-modern in its self-reflexivity on the nature of both historical and fictional writing, its ideas are dramatically communicated through action in a novel that is rich in tension, dark humour and complex, strikingly drawn characters.

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