Books: Face Full of Ripe Flesh ; James Urquhart Is Happy to Hear More about the Fictional State of Zambawi
Urquhart, James, The Independent (London, England)
Twelve Bar Blues
By Patrick Neate
VIKING pounds 9.99
After only the most casual of adjacent-seat introductions in the sweaty bowels of a jumbo jet taxiing out of Heathrow, Sylvia di Napoli finds herself pouring out her life story to the generous ear of Jim Tulloh. "I'm a prostitute. Retired," she begins. "And a singer. Unemployed." By JFK they are tentative friends. "What an odd couple they must make," Sylvia muses as Jim eagerly presses his nose to the Manhattan skyline streaming past the cab's window: "a pasty- faced kid and a knackered old whore."
No coupling is odd to Patrick Neate, though, whose debut novel Musungu Jim and the Great Chief Tuloko found the same Jim Tulloh, then a gap-year English teacher in Zambawi, dealing with bush banditry, coups, a witchdoctor's enormous spliffs and scandalous gulugulu with tantalisingly pretty young women. Neate's latest hugely enjoyable offering, Twelve Bar Blues, is no sequel but does draw on the peculiar history and mythology of Zambawi, the fictional mid-African state that Neate created for Musungu Jim.
Sylvia di Napoli, a coffee-coloured beauty with a suspiciously Italian surname, is trying to bolster her black identity by tracing her ancestors, last seen in Harlem. One of them is Lick Holden, possibly the finest cornet player ever lost to history, who a century earlier is tooting for all he's worth at the birth of jazz in the honky-tonks of …
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Publication information: Article title: Books: Face Full of Ripe Flesh ; James Urquhart Is Happy to Hear More about the Fictional State of Zambawi. Contributors: Urquhart, James - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: May 13, 2001. Page number: 45. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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