From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Lord's debut, a retelling of a Senegalese folktale, packs a great deal of subtly alluring storytelling into this small package. Paama flees her gluttonous husband, Ansige; two years later, he hires the master tracker Kwame to find her. Kwame reluctantly takes the job to finance his own wanderlust. These events draw the attention of the Indigo Lord, one of the powerful spirits called Djombi. He wielded the power of Chaos until it was taken from him and given to Paama, and he wants it back. An unnamed narrator, sometimes serious and often mischievous, spins delicate but powerful descriptions of locations, emotions, and the protagonists' great flaws and great strengths as they interact with family, poets, tricksters, sufferers of tragedy, and—of course—occasional moments of pure chaos. (June)
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*Starred Review* Lord is Barbadian, and her first novel retells a Senegalese legend, setting it in a world not unlike the village West Africa of Ousmane Sembène's films. In it, humans and the undying spirits of such qualities as patience and chance as well as of tricksters, great (a spider, of course) and lesser, interact. In little Makende, Paama, who is a great cook, has returned to her family after 10 years of marriage to the gluttonous Ansige. To chastise Chance, Patience has seized the Chaos Stick, which can alter human disasters if seldom dispel them, and decided to give it to Paama. Chance's elaborate efforts to induce Paama to give it back to him constitute the principal strain of the plot, from which the narrator diverges in every other chapter to account for other characters who impinge on the main action. A great deal happens in the novel's relatively short course, but confusion is minimal because Lord has found the ideal voice for the narrator—feminine yet authoritative, amusing yet soothing, omniscient yet humble. This is one of those literary works of which it can be said that not a word should be changed. --Ray Olson