A River Called Time
By: Courttia Newland - Akashic Books, $28.95
Description: The Ark was built to save the lives of the many, but rapidly became a refuge for the elite, the entrance closed without warning.
Years after the Ark was cut off from the world a world much like our own, but in which slavery has never existed a chance of survival within the Arks confines is granted to a select few who can prove their worth.
Among their number is Markriss Denny, whose path to future excellence is marred only by a closely guarded secret: without warning, his spirit leaves his body, allowing him to see and experience a world far beyond his physical limitations.
Once inside the Ark, Denny learns of another with the same power, whose existence could spell catastrophe for humanity. He is forced into a desperate race to understand his abilities, and in doing so uncovers the truth about the Ark, himself, and the people he thought he once knew.
Verdict: Wow! Simply wow! The award-winning playwright and screenwriter for Steve McQueens Small Axe, Courttia Newland has created one of the Top 5 books (already) for me in 2021!
For what Newland has created here over the 462 pages is nothing short of a richly imagined, layered, textured, and magnificently ornate, parallel London where colonialism and slavery never existed; whilst exploring timely themes of social inequality and more.
A quite splendid tale, and at the same time, a rather intimate portrait, that embodies the spirits of both love and loss, his characters delve deep in the psyche of these magical visions of his unbounded past, present and future.
A wholly immersive, and totally mesmerizing reimagining of the city from a grown formidable British voice, A River Called Time not only features so much within it to love, to admire, to breathtakingly imagine as if it could really have happened, but at the same time brings forth a hero, an Everyman of the people, who discovers his abilities are anything but ordinary.
Someone to root for, no matter color or creed, with him thrown into the parallel cities drawn out before him, across a multiverse of colors and shapes and ordinances, African cosmology belief systems ahoy, for what the pages finally reveal are quite an amazingly inspired achievement.
In closing, A River Called Time perfectly showcases Newlands firm grip on the mystical, the magical, and that tiny spark of wonderment that lies within all of us to see what else is out there: real or imagined.
He is, simply out, a masterful storyteller of the highest order and has brought forth a quite extraordinary tale, not only of astonishing speculative fiction, but one that embodies interrogating social inequality, the complexities of truth and the very essence of what it is to be human, all under the same book cover!
Courttia Newland is the author of seven books including his much-lauded debut, The Scholar. His last novel, The Gospel According to Cane, was published by Akashic in 2013.
In 2016 he was awarded the Tayner Barbers Award for science fiction writing and the Roland Rees Bursary for playwriting.
As a screenwriter, he has written two episodes of the Steve McQueen BBC series Small Axe.
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