"A fine collection evoking nostalgia for a simpler way of life."– Kirkus Reviews
A debut collection of stories about a traditional Australian tribal community, told in the voices of shamans, elders and tricksters.
Ma, the 99-year-old shaman who runs a cafe on the border between a city and Aboriginal lands, dishes out stories, laughter, beer and biscuits together with healings and body decoration to her local regulars. She shares the spotlight with her sheepdog, Bruce; her brother Midget, who has extra fingers and sometimes feigns Scottish heritage; her sister Possum, who serves cake and tells scary tales; and Rabbi Wingspan, who combines his shamanic training with the Torah and has a strange sense of what counts as kosher. The stories’ language is simple, and they mostly come from the characters’ own lives; although there may be lessons here, the stories are meant to entertain. Linden winds her themes through the traditional stories and the scenes in the cafe. Culture clashes between city people and locals, and between those who leave their ancestors’ land and those who stay behind, manifest in Ma’s teasing of her tourist visitors and in the harsher tales of city girls lost and tribal law succeeding where city law fails. Ma and her companions acknowledge the modern world when it suits them, mixing coffee and aspirin to use as a potion and selling paintings to tourists at crazy prices while also remaining part of an older worldview. Stories about shamanic journeys, healing practices and justice explore the relationships among the people, their land and their ancestors. The net effect is rough yet magical, practical yet playful, with an internally consistent authenticity that comes more from the author’s modern imagination than from tradition.
A fine collection evoking nostalgia for a simpler way of life.
Rooted in Australian Aboriginal spirituality, this intriguing first in a trilogy describes Earth thousands of years after an apocalypse.
After he envisioned catastrophe, Prophet Kongozi gathered people from all around Earth and prepared to move far underground where he thought it would be safe. Generations later, an impatient young man, Prasanga, is increasingly drawn by an urge to leave his underground family. The people are losing strength, having already lost the ability to bear children, and their precious kijana seed, which had been indirectly created by Kongozi, is running out. Without this life-giving source, those underground will die. The tribes’ wise men believe that an ancient prophecy promising Kongozi’s reincarnation in a time of deep crisis is about to come true, but the question remains as to who it will be: Prasanga, his weak-willed best friend or perhaps his betrothed. Linden bases this unique underground world on solid mythical ground–the hero is part of a trio, must find certain sacred objects to fulfill his quest and has a wise teacher who shows him how to sense the energy in all things around him. Storytelling drives the tale, revealing that while many things have been forgotten others have not. Prasanga fights the knowledge that he may be the reincarnated prophet and the only one who can save the people living underground. Linden has created a believable, albeit fantastic world, but the tale also has its share of sadness, betrayal and longing for the innocence of youth.
A surprisingly good fantasy that should appeal to teens, especially those intrigued with reincarnation and destiny.