The Prophet of Zongo Street (Magill's Literary Annual 2006)
The Prophet of Zongo Street is framed by four stories that describe the intrusion of the supernatural into the everyday world. Although the other six stories in the collection are realistic in form, they, too, demonstrate how anyone’s life can suddenly take a totally unexpected turn. The author does not commit himself as to whether such reversals are merely chance occurrences or whether in these cases, too, there are extraordinary powers at work.
In “The Story of Day and Night,” with which the book begins, the author asserts the authority of storytellers, at least on Zongo Street. As the first and oldest of the wives of the late Hausa king, Uwargida is the respected matriarch of her household. The other widows are her devoted attendants, and though she ordinarily tells stories each night to the children who collect in the courtyard to hear them, Uwargida may choose not to appear. Her status as the “mother” of the house and, in a sense, of the Hausa people, underlines the importance of what the unnamed narrator identifies as the “mother of all stories.” The ongoing battle between Mewuya and the fetish priest Kantamanto does not merely explain the alternation between light and dark; it accounts for the constant struggle between good and evil. According to Uwargida, when one of the two combatants wins over the other, the world will end. Uwargida functions as a bard or a priestess, repeating stories to the young generation that...
(The entire section is 1663 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2006)
The Baltimore Sun, August 7, 2005, p. F10.
Booklist 101, no. 22 (August 1, 2005): 1989.
Kirkus Reviews 73, no. 9 (May 1, 2005): 489.
Los Angeles Times, August 1, 2005, p. E8.
The New York Times Book Review 154 (August 14, 2005): 13.
People 64, no. 8 (August 22, 2005): 52.
Publishers Weekly 252, no. 24 (June 13, 2005): 31.
San Francisco Chronicle, August 21, 2005, p. F3.
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