Cover image for In the shadow of the son
In the shadow of the son
Simanga, Michael, 1954-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Chicago : Third World Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
261 pages ; 23 cm
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Isaiah Bishop knows the sound of war, the smell of violence, the colour of fear, and the taste of blood. He knows the horror of killing and the tragedy of young men dying. These were the tough lessons impressed upon this inner city high school teacher as he served out his tour of duty in the Vietnam War. Now, more than twenty years after surviving the jungles of Southeast Asia, Bishop finds that the lessons of the bloody and nightmarish conflict on foreign soil are being revisited upon him once again. Yet this time, the battle lines are clearer and closer to home. He is caught in the throes of America's urban war; the streets of his neighbourhood now are where the contest is being played out.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Simanga's affirmative novel explores the difficult and frustrating subject of the oppression of African-American men. Set in a tough city where authority is suspect, gangsters are noble and white flight is as old and seminal as the creation myth, this candid debut strikes a poignant note. Isaiah Bishop, high school history teacher and Vietnam veteran, is the novel's protagonist and its chronicler of urban violence. When his former student and friend Billy King mysteriously vanishes, Bishop is asked by Billy's mother, Juanita, to help find him. Billy's promising future has been compromised as he becomes embroiled in a complex plot of police and political corruption radiating from a core-rotten city hall. Bishop's attempts to rescue Billy and put the pieces of this intricate puzzle together bring him close to danger and to an enigmatic real-estate entrepreneur at the center of the trouble. Shucking and jiving, not knowing whom to trust, he relies on his reputation and tactics not used since Vietnam. The bloody streets and lurking dangers of the inner city bring the battlefields back for Bishop, and he relates the hypocrisy, greed and violence he witnessed in Southeast Asia to the urban jungle. Simanga's characters struggle to respond with love and compassion. Sometimes, however, compassion must take a more violent formÄor so Simanga seems to say. If it doubles as a political treatise, this first novel by the cofounder of the Black Fire Poetry Theater also functions as a suspenseful, touching drama.(Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved