Less a novel than a philosophical dialogue, this is still an engaging and thoughtful read. It is the story of Samba, a person divided – between religion and science, between knowledge and faith, between black and white, between the colonizer and the colonized, between body and soul, between two teachers, etc.. And Samba knows of these dichotomies and struggles to reconcile them. As he says, “I have become the two” (135).
As I mentioned, there is a lot of dialogue (often abstract) and sometimes it is difficult to track the speaker. Katherine Woods is an effective translator. These exchanges sound, for the most part, natural rather than didactic.
There is a lyrical section at the beginning of Part I, Chapter 5 that is emblematic of these dichotomies. Aside from those few pages, the writing doesn’t really sparkle; it is the ideas that will cause you to stop and think.