Ahmed’s Revenge

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Set in Kenya in the 1960’s and 1970’s, AHMED’S REVENGE revolves around a central event—the stealing of a particularly epic set of elephant tusks—and a central woman—Nora Grant—who finds herself suddenly involved in a tangled web of personal and political deceit attached to the illegal trade of ivory. Nora and her husband Julius own a modestly sized coffee plantation outside of Nairobi. When one night her husband is badly wounded (both by animal and by gunshot) in fending off an elephant charge at their farm’s watering hole, and when Julius subsequently dies in the hospital—the apparent victim of a murder—Nora embarks upon a sinuous search for the truth of that death.

What she uncovers, with the help of a local Kenyan policeman and a world-class Kenyan operatic star, is a familial history that is bound up in the trade in ivory and in the colonial story of Kenya itself. Nora’s father, a former Minister of Wildlife, comes to occupy a place in the unravelling story, as do an aging and respected Kenyan and his less-respected, shadowy son. In the pursuit of her truth, Nora comes to know the truth of several lives: her father’s, her husband’s, her own, as well as that of the country which she (as an expatriate) has long called home.

Various factors complicate Nora’s search. The fact that she is a woman in a decidedly man’s culture challenges Nora to locate herself in that culture; she must find a way to maneuver herself...

(The entire section is 401 words.)