In an African country, while a civil war rages, Kibwe and Zuberi meet. Both are twelve years old, both are orphans; Kibwe’s parents killed in the name of war and Zuberi’s in the name of trade. Kibwe is a boy and Zuberi a gorilla, a young silverback. They are on the run: Kibwe, from the horrors he has committed as a child soldier, and Zuberi, from the violent hand of man. The former is desperate to reclaim his humanity; the latter, determined to have a family once more. Can they help one another get back what each has lost?
In this, his third novel, Nick Taussig constructs two parallel yet contrasting storylines – one with a young boy soldier as narrator and the other a gorilla, a young silverback – in order to explore the best and worst of human nature in the light of our ape inheritance. These two strands gradually come together to produce a gripping, moving and provocative book. His most ambitious novel to date, this work has a timeless and apocalyptic feel.
Kibwe lives as part of an African tribe and has a happy existence – until one night he is kidnapped by guerrillas. Suddenly he is in the hands of bloodthirsty men who train him to kill. For a whole year Kibwe is part of the pack and forced to carry our terrible atrocities. Meanwhile Zuberi, a gorilla living in the same part of Africa, sees his family wiped out by man. When Kibwe and Zuberi’s paths cross, they only have each other in their fight for survival. This thought-provoking tale is beautifully told, and deals with, among other issues, man’s relationship with nature.
Natasha Harding, The Sun
This clever and driven story. What a brave novel! It is hunting for big game, which is what a novel should do.
Ashley Stokes, The Guardian and Times Literary Supplement critic
In this book Nick Taussig evidences his intelligence, humility and humanity by juxtaposing the lives of two higher primates – one of which writes books. The author also thus renders the barriers we erect between our species and others to protect our sense of uniqueness otiose – or at least calls them (quite rightly) into question. Good research lends insight and texture. Avoidance of grandiose prose renders the text unpretentious and distinctly moorish! Perhaps the world would do well to read and ponder?
Nicholas Green, author of The Shen by Nature