Books

Canongate U.S.
Canongate U.S.
Canongate U.S.

Pandora in the Congo

by Albert Sanchez Pinol

“An action-packed adventure story in the best Rider Haggard tradition. It is also a parody of such novels and a sophisticated reflection on the imaginative power of literature. . . . Sánchez Piñol’s originality lies in his themes and excellently structured plot. This is an impressive and most unusual novel.” –The Independent

  • Imprint Canongate U.S.
  • Page Count 448
  • Publication Date March 10, 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-1-8476-7187-5
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $15.95

About The Book

A rollicking, retro-adventure yarn set in the dark heart of Africa, Pandora in the Congo follows a gold mining expedition gone horribly wrong, a netherworld of ungodly creatures, and an in-over-his-head pulp fiction ghostwriter, bringing the reader to the furthest and wildest realms of the imagination.

The trees dominated everything. There was no desert, no ocean, no tundra that could compare. And, in that moment, at the top of that tree, Marcus knew the world could be a very large place, but that the Congo would always be larger than the world. Out loud he said, ‘my God, where are we going?” I think that Marcus sensed the answer: on beyond the grace of God.

It is 1914 when Marcus Garvey, a bedraggled British manservant, emerges from the depths of the Belgian Congo. He is the sole survivor of an ill-fated mining expedition in which both his masters, William and Richard Craver, died and from which their African porters unexpectedly fled. Garvey returns to London carrying two diamonds of extraordinary size, spinning a story too unspeakably terrifying to be believed. He is promptly arrested. Tommy Thompson, a London ghostwriter for a ghostwriter for a ghostwriter (don’t ask!), is approached by his attorney to document Garvey’s unholy African odyssey. From his prison cell awaiting the murder trial, Garvey recounts the mind-boggling horror that the Craver mining expedition encountered in the dark recesses of the Belgian Congo. Exactly how did the Craver brothers die? What unearthly forces would drive men to commit such acts of immeasurable brutality? Could love have possibly bloomed in the heart of such darkness? Only Tommy can untangle the mysteries of the Garvey case. A brilliant literary pastiche and tongue-in-cheek pulp African adventure with echoes of Heart of Darkness and King Solomon’s Mines, Pandora in the Congo is, at its heart, a fabulist literary exploration of imagination, reminding us that there is rarely one version to any story, and always more than meets the eye.

Praise

“Applying the differential polarities of structural anthropology to all sorts of expectations–racial, cultural, literary–it melds the ironies of Christopher Hope’s Darkest England with the shape-shifting brio of Richard Flanagan’s Gould’s Book of Fish. Going beyond particular postcolonial politics (as might detain a British or Commonwealth writer) into that realm of hyperbolic fabulation where Umberto Eco has long made safari, Pandora in the Congo marks s’nchez Pi”ol’s emergence as a significant European writer.” –The Guardian

“[A] fanciful metafiction that lampoons adventure stories while telling one with great enthusiasm”Pi”ol has layers of commentary at work, touching on perception, the nature of literature, the need for heroes and the faults of hubris. It’s a smart book, and Pi”ol poses piercing questions; the adventure yarn that ties it all together is great entertainment.” –Publishers Weekly

“An action-packed adventure story in the best Rider Haggard tradition. It is also a parody of such novels and a sophisticated reflection on the imaginative power of literature. . . . Sánchez Piñol’s originality lies in his themes and excellently structured plot. This is an impressive and most unusual novel.” –The Independent

“Sánchez Piñol follows up his impressive first novel, Cold Skin, with another feat of literary fabulism that far exceeds his debut in imagination and scope”His primary intent, however, is giving his readers their money’s worth in entertainment value. This is a work that will appeal to Ph.D.s and Indiana Jones obsessives alike. Recommended for all libraries.” –Library Journal

“A wonderful oddity . . . an adventure yarn that could stand alongside the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs.” –The Times (London)”Full of sci-fi happenings and tall tales, Albert s’nchez Pi”ol’s sparky romp is addictive.” –Finacial Times

“A rip-roaring historical adventure.” –Scotland On Sunday

“It lets us know the worst, and yet we can still value the morally ambiguous product of Tommy’s idealism, talent, and unselfish love.” –The Times Literary Supplement

Excerpt

The next few days set everyone’s nerves on edge. The screams that came out of the mine at night were a thermometer of the noises within. Some nights the racket didn’t stop until daybreak. William didn’t want to deal with it at all. He ordered Marcus and Pepe to take care of the incidents at night. They were only to notify him in the case of a real emergency.

Marcus couldn’t stand waking up with nightmares. Now he found out there was something worse: waking up for other people’s nightmares. He could only sleep for a little while, until the explosions of howls ravaged his mind. The sound travelled from the mine’s opening and spread through the clearing. There were one hundred mouths shrieking desperately, like pigs that had a knife to the neck. Marcus opened his eyes, disconcerted, terrified, wet with a sickly sweat. His numb brain had trouble accepting what was going on. He learned to ask himself four questions before moving: “Who am I? Where am I? Who’s screaming? Why are they waking me up?” And he answered: “I’m Marcus Garvey. I’m in the Congo.

I’m an overseer of Negroes. The Negroes are screaming because they’re afraid of a Tecton attack.” And when he had obtained those four answers he told himself: “Calm down, everything’s normal.”