Reginald McKnight’s most recent novel is slim in size, and the story is quite simple: An African-American anthropologist goes to Senegal to collect aphorisms and to find himself. But he is caught in a web of deception and betrayal and almost gets killed. On the surface the story seems to be about race and sexuality, but there is more than that. It’s about human isolation, loneliness, and the failure of compassion and imagination, which transcend racial and cultural boundaries. Technically the novel is bold—letters, diaries, and narratives coalesce into a coherent piece. This is a very intelligent, poignant book.
Ha Jin is the author of The Bridegroom and the National Book Award-winning Waiting.