The Raw Man by George Makana Clark; Vaclav and Lena by Haley Tanner; The Sly Company of People Who Care by Rahul Bhattacharya; The Wandering Falcon by Jamil Ahmad; Outside the Ordinary World by Dori Ostermiller - review by Jonathan Barnes

Jonathan Barnes

Jonathan Barnes on a Cosmopolitan Quintet of Debut Novels

  • George Makana Clark, 
  • Haley Tanner, 
  • Rahul Bhattacharya, 
  • Jamil Ahmad, 
  • Dori Ostermiller
 

It is October 1978 and in a ‘scorched and burning’ Rhodesian wilderness a soldier, Sergeant Gordon, is captured by guerrillas. Strapped to the bonnet of their car ‘like a game animal’, he is driven to a copper mine where he is forced into slavery. Made to toil deep beneath the earth beside a clutch of fellow prisoners in conditions so appalling as to be scarcely imaginable, he begins, haltingly at first, then with increasing confidence, to tell his story, ‘weaving together the threads of his life’.

The terrifying opening sequence of George Makana Clark’s The Raw Man is also its most memorable component. The tale of Gordon’s life flits through the decades – from birth to childhood and adolescence to the violent events that led to his enslavement. The cumulative effect is potent and strange,

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