Chike is Chinua Achebe’s young hero in this gentle, touching story of an eleven-year-old Nigerian boy who has to leave his village in order to continue his schooling in the big city on the shores of the mighty Niger River. It is a charming tale about finding your way in a totally new environment and learning some important life lessons about loyalty, honesty, courage and the strength and limits of dreams.
Any writer who can so completely capture the essence of cowness, even in translation (here by Sondra Silverston) is most certainly worth reading, and I am entirely pleased to make the acquaintance of Israeli novelist Amos Oz. Never mind that this airy little story of 2005, which the author describes as “A fable for all ages,” is almost certainly merely a footnote to Oz’s work, barely reflecting what I understand to be the seriousness of his major work, let alone the outspoken commitment of his political writings. It is still a story worth reading once for its charm and twice for its meaning.
What a father Salman Rushdie would make! Imagine being read to from a book that opens with “a boy named Luka who had two pets, a bear named Dog and a dog named Bear.” And then to learn that the former “was an expert dancer, able to get up onto his hind legs and perform with subtlety and grace the waltz, the polka, the rhumba, the wah-watusi, and the twist, as well as dances from nearer home, the pounding bhangra, the twirling ghoomar (for which he wore a wide mirror-worked skirt), the warrior dances known as the spaw and the thang-ta, and the peacock dance of the south.”