Nii Ayikwei Parkes' 'Tail of the Blue Bird'
This article is from 2009.
Ghana-bred British writer debuts with a novel that challenges new beliefs
The jump from performance poet to novelist is not necessarily easy or obvious, but Nii Ayikwei Parkes pulls it off with aplomb. The British-born, Ghana-raised writer is now based in Manchester, where he’s made a name for himself as a live performer of his own work as well as a champion of young African writers, and now Parkes is a novelist with his just-published scintillating debut, Tail of the Blue Bird.
The book is based in a small Ghanaian village and blends Parkes’ lyricism with a conventional detective story, something which surprised the author himself. ‘That wasn’t deliberate. In fact, I don’t really plot at all, I just have ideas, daydreams that crossover and become stories.’ The novel sees a young forensic pathologist investigating discovered remains, and highlights the conflicts between urban and rural life, and science and spirituality, as inexplicable things begin to happen in the village.
‘Growing up in Ghana you never question those beliefs,’ says Parkes. ‘But it’s not necessarily a conflict between that and science. All belief systems have their merits and demerits. For me, it would be a tragedy to lose the old beliefs. New is not always better; we’re finding that out more and more these days.’
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