Books by Farrukh Dhondy

BLACK SWAN by Farrukh Dhondy
Released: Sept. 1, 1993

By an Indian-born author, an elaborately convoluted novel with a framing story about an aspiring young actor, Rose, who's caring for mysterious old ``Mr. B,'' for whom she transcribes a document comprising the book's other narrative—the journal of Simon Forman, an Elizabethan physician embroiled in theatrical politics. Forman's intricately plotted revelations center on a black man known as ``Mr. W. H.'' or ``Lazarus,'' whose terrible adventures include feigned death and new identities—as do, it emerges, Mr. B's: He's a former political figure, now in hiding; like Lazarus, he's come from the Caribbean. Kit Marlowe, too, fakes his own murder and lives to love Lazarus; singly and together, they write the plays attributed to Shakespeare (here pictured as a drunkard of small talent), with Othello expressing Lazarus's grief at his betrayal by Marlowe. It's an intriguingly complicated construction, though Dhondy introduces more issues and ideas—in both eras—than could be comfortably accommodated in twice the space. The bard's plays as the creation of a cruelly tormented black man is an imaginative concept; but Forman's narrative, though carefully honed and incorporating phrases from the plays, is unconvincingly Elizabethan, even given the identity that Dhondy (in a last twist) gives its author. Still, a fast- moving, idea-packed read that will stretch young minds. It's outrageous that the publisher underestimates their intelligence enough to call Rose's mother ``Mom.'' (Fiction. 12+) Read full book review >