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The Whistler Paperback – February 1, 2008
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From School Library Journal
Adult/High School—An awkward and disheveled man arrives in a small village at the time of October rains. Soaked, he seeks refuge in the corridors of a small empty church. Alone and in a moment of sublime space, light, and feeling, when a "delicate religiousness penetrates his lungs and his heart," he begins the first few notes of a whistle. This whistle arrives with the ability to shift emotion, perception, and reality in its unearthliness. Angolan author Ondjaki has created characters and a premise infused with enough magical realism and mystery to satisfy the most steadfast enthusiasts of García Márquez or Fuentes. Through dreams, histories, and memories, he introduces mysterious sea-women, overworked gravediggers, lascivious widows, madmen, donkeys, death cheaters, sentient baobab trees, and traveling salesmen versed in the science of alchemy. This delightful group is so seduced by the melodies of the whistler that they finally come together, literally, by the end of the tale. As engaging as the context is, the story lacks a fluidity in storytelling that would leave readers as satisfied as their characters ultimately become. Whether this is a result of less-than-stellar translation or a jarring pace and style is difficult to tell. While Whistler is exciting yet slightly disharmonic, Ondjaki is obviously brimming with serious imagination and depth. If readers of multicultural literature and surreal whimsy don't latch on to him here, they should definitely keep an eye out for any future flights of fancy.—Shannon Peterson, Kitsap Regional Library, WA
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