I haven’t finished reading Minister Faust‘s new novel, The Alchemists of Kush. So I am not going to discuss it in the same detail as I did with his previous novel, From the Notebooks of Dr. Brain. Let me just say, based on what I have read so far (I am about 50% of the way through), that The Alchemists of Kush is another brilliant work of speculative fiction (though it is closer to Minister Faust’s first book, The Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad, than it is to Dr. Brain).
The Alchemists of Kush is a work of triangulation: ancient African myth is juxtaposed with the lives of young (teen-aged) African immigrants (from Sudan, Somalia, and elsewhere) in present-day Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. I can best describe the novel in terms of a musical analogue: it’s as if you were to make a kind of mutant crossing between, on the one hand, the cosmic jazz of Sun Ra, with its invocation of ancient Egyptian deities, and on the other hand, the gritty urban hiphop of the Wu-Tang Clan, with its doubling of naturalistic detail into the modern mythologies of martial arts films and comic books.
The Alchemists of Kush is about poverty, violence, and racism; but it’s also about hope, inspiration, and transformation. It doesn’t separate the personal from the political and social, but grasps life from a point at which these dimensions both inhere, even though they also remain separate. Neither is reducible to the other, but at the same time neither is independent of the other. The novel might be described as both Afrofuturist and Afrocentric; but precisely thanks to this stubborn particularity, its aspirations and attainments are universalist.
The Alchemists of Kush goes on sale as an ebook (both Kindle and Nook formats) tomorrow — June 15, 2011 — for $2.99.
And also — If the book hits the Kindle Top 100 on launch day–June 15, 2011 — Minister Faust will donate the first $500 of sales to the South Sudan Development Foundation’s efforts to ship thousands of books (including the 300 he donated) to the Dr. John Garang Memorial University in South Sudan, which currently has no library. Good works for a good book.