Meeting the Invisible Man: Travels And Magic In West Africa Paperback – 6 Jun 2002
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To call Toby Green's Meeting the Invisible Man merely a fine of piece travel writing doesn't begin to convey the ambition (and achievement) of this remarkable book. Subtitled Secrets and Magic in West Africa, this book really defies categorisation. The reader is conveyed on a bizarre and exhilarating journey into unknown waters that takes in such diverse themes as the grim history of the slave trade, the awe-inspiring scenery of West Africa and the literary invisible men of H G Wells and Ralph Ellison.
Green (whose previous epic journey Saddled with Darwin can now be seen to give an indication of his eccentric vision) became acquainted with a Senegalese photographer, El Hadji, who revealed to him that certain West African mystics had mastered the secrets of invisibility and invulnerability. Meeting up with his old friend in 1997, he decides to test the truth of these phenomena with a surreal journey through the intimidating territory of Casamance, Guinea-Conakry and Guinea-Bissau. This is a world where the natives live in terror of magic and religions such as Islam and more primitive beliefs are synthesised in a culture in which mysticism reigns supreme.
Taking a dangerous journey to hidden settlements in the brush, Green encounters the mysterious keepers of ancient knowledge and finally undergoes a trip into the heart of darkness with a conclusion that beggars belief.
Freighted into this astonishing narrative are meditations on racism, the sometimes dark power of religion and Marco Polo's groundbreaking journey through Zanzibar. As well as evoking the horrors and splendours of a strange land, Green's phantasmagorical book is a rich exploration of magic and belief, finally confronting us with the limits of the possible--and the impossible. --Barry Forshaw --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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