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 A debut novel that could be a moveable feast of blackness and love as it moves across cultural and geographic boundaries is undercut by New Age clichÇs, Afrocentric politics, and an insufferably smug hero. Busia, the Ghanaian-born writer who also appeared as Nettie in The Color Purple, vividly evokes settings as varied as the Caribbean, New York, her native Ghana, and London in telling the story of Solomon Eustace Wilberforce. Under the pseudonym of Beento Blackbird, Solomon is the successful writer of children's stories with uplifting African-American themes. As a leader in the Power Program he helped found, he frequently speaks on empowerment at high schools and prisons; is a major investor in black-owned enterprises on his native Caribbean island; and also generously supports orphans and indigent relatives, activities that make Solomon seem admirable, though at the same time he has arranged his love life in ways satisfactory to himself but not always to others. The illegitimate son of an islander and an American vacationer married to a white woman, he spent his adolescence in the US, becoming a writer but never forgetting his roots. He now spends winter in the Caribbean with his wife Miriam, an older woman who had also been the young midwife who delivered him; in spring, with his ``inner child eager to show him how to lead the children into a bright new world,'' he moves to New York, where he writes; and in summer he flies to Ghana to be with young Ashia, wife number two. Solomon's masculine idyll ends when Ashia has a son, then arrives in the Caribbean and meets Miriam. Forced to choose between them, Solomon flees, only to emerge after a period of solitude and Bible study with an Afrocentric reading of Christianity and the convictions that love is all and Miriam is the only wife for him. Well and good, but, still, what's really here is more upmarket fantasy than convincing fiction.

Pub Date: Oct. 3rd, 1996
ISBN: 0-316-11495-2
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1996