From author Carter (Theology for a Violent Age, 2010) comes a novel about a mysterious man’s multipart tale delivered to inhabitants of an ancient village.
After traveling through the desert, Narada “the wanderer” happens upon the “once…thriving metropolis” known as Ja’Usu, where he is met with curiosity and questions. Narada explains himself rather vaguely, “I stay in a place for a while, and then I move on.” It’s only later, when pressed by a council of patriarchs, that Narada explains his background to be much more than that of a common nomad. Meanwhile, all is not well in Ja’Usu: “The dirt-poor misery of the many and the privileges of a few disturbed Narada, and he vowed to sow the seeds of discontent and remedy the situation before leaving this ancient city in the desert.” Narada tells a futuristic tale in order to capture the attention of the common people. It stars 42-year-old Arthur Renfro in the far-off year of 2003. As the head of the African American Community Trust, Arthur is deeply concerned about a health crisis in California. According to the director of the public health department, “It looks like we got more black people dying in this county than we have being born.” With “chronic stress” seemingly at the heart of the problem, will Arthur and his colleagues be able to find a solution, even as such a quest ends up venturing into more spiritual matters? Involving both the magic of an elevator and a Santeria ritual, Arthur’s adventure, as related by Narada, includes the mundane and the exotic. Though the former might capture the attention of the people of Ja’Usu, it does little for the modern reader, who may not see much humor in a car described as a “mechanical wagon,” descriptions of out-of-body experiences, and a Babalawo (protective beads) shine, but readers will find these details unfamiliar, leaving one to wonder how such a yarn will relate back to ancient times.
An ambitious, sometimes-wondrous, sometimes-tedious tale of connected time periods.