(Critical Guide to British Fiction)

The nature of Lionel Froad’s conflict becomes apparent at the beginning of the novel. Froad, the protagonist, is a man suffering from ambivalence and inner division. This sense of self-division is underscored, at the beginning of the novel, when he confesses to having two names, Lionel, literally his Christian name, and “Lobo,” the nickname which expresses his ancestral heritage, the first representing who he is, the second, who he ought to become. Froad, a Guyanese who was educated in Great Britain, has come to Johkara, a fictional country located in the Sudan, to work as an archaeological draftsman for an English scholar and archaeologist, Dr. Hughie King, and, on a deeper level, to find his roots and his identity. Johkara, like Froad, is itself divided. Froad describes it as “not quite sub-Sahara, but then not quite desert; not Equatorial black, not Mediterranean white. Mulatto. Sudanic mulatto....” Froad’s plight as a divided man who is torn between two worlds, who is uncommitted and paralyzed, is thus introduced. His task, to recover his roots, is underscored by his ostensible task, to participate in archaeological digs in his ancestral homeland.

On one of these digs, statues of Amanishakete, the Queen of Meroe during the first century s.c., are unearthed. Froad, who wanted to believe that Amanishakete’s royalty could somehow demonstrate his own noble African ancestry, is angered and humiliated by Hughie’s disparaging remarks about...

(The entire section is 574 words.)


(Critical Guide to British Fiction)

Dathorne, O. R. The Black Mind: A History of African Literature, 1974.

Gilkes, Michael. The West Indian Novel, 1981.

Moore, Gerald. The Chosen Tongue: English Writing in the Tropical World, 1969.

Ramchand, Kenneth. The West Indian Novel and Its Background, 1974.