Set in a leper colony on
an unnamed equatorial island our narrator struggles with delirium and
memory as he chronicles his state. He is fascinated by a strange cast
of characters as they live out their destinies towards the grave,
pursued by music, dance and song. Desire and redemption entwine like
snakes as his companions invent charmed pasts, as with Minstrel
Joe’s tales of jamming with dead blues legends.
Part prose poem, part journal, part cri du coeur, part meditation on
the last things, The
is a novella that stands intransigently beyond
history and time, assembling a polyglot dramatis personae of outcasts.
There is an urgent poetry and profundity in this book, but at its
heart, floundering against the odds, there is the struggle to live.
Henderson writes big, risky
fictions. His best stories combine imaginative flair and luminous,
rhythmical prose with a readiness to exploit the mythopoetic.
Andrew Peak, Island