IN BIKOLE: Eight Modern Stories of Life in a West African Village by Tom Gilroy

IN BIKOLE: Eight Modern Stories of Life in a West African Village

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Eight quite short stories, each with a more or less obvious moral, drawn from the author's Peace Corps experience in West Africa. In the best, readers may draw their own conclusions--as to why, in ""The Family,"" Modou's father replaces the three calves that his shiftless Uncle N'Gor has stolen; or how it is that Salue, who has no money to buy a special gris-gris (magic charm) for his ""Wrestling Match"" with Jakate, still wins out in the end. Also elliptical in its irony is the fate of ailing Omar: casually dosed with penicillin by an uncaring doctor, he dies wearing the new shoes that his father bought him for being such a good patient. The latter two--plus the story of Rosalie, who runs away rather than marry ""an old goat like the assistant governor""--are socially progressive through and through; and the all-too-plain purpose of ""The Storm"" is to reconcile an educated couple to the difficulties of bringing beneficial change to Bikole. But in that light, the tale of ""The Bird"" that passes over Adi's grandfather's but after the old man dies-thereby validating the ""fairytale"" of transformation at death--seems a sop to folkways flouted elsewhere, or perhaps a ranking of beliefs on a socially-progressive scale (gris-gris is expensive, therefore bad). Almost all the stories, nonetheless, give some inkling of contemporary mores--and of the very real difficulty of straddling the old and the new.

Pub Date: Oct. 9th, 1979
Publisher: Knopf