The Two Hearts of Kwasi Boachi (Paperback)

By Arthur Japin

Vintage, 9780375718892, 400pp.

Publication Date: June 11, 2002



The first ten years of my life I was not black. Thus begins this startlingly eloquent and beautiful tale based on the true story of Kwasi Boachi, a 19th- century African prince who was sent with his cousin, Kwame, to be raised in Holland as a guest of the royal family. Narrated by Kwasi himself, the story movingly portrays the perplexing dichotomy of the cousins' situation: black men of royal ancestry, they are subject to insidious bigotry even as they enjoy status among Europe's highest echelons. As their lives wind down different paths Kwame back to Africa where he enlists in the Dutch army, Kwasi to an Indonesian coffee plantation where success remains mysteriously elusive they become aware of a terrible truth that lies at the heart of their experiences. Vivid, subtle, poignant and profound, The Two Hearts of Kwasi Boachi is an exquisite masterpiece of story and craft, a heartrending work that places Arthur Japin on a shelf that includes Joseph Conrad, J.M. Coetzee, Kazuo Ishiguro and Nadine Gordimer.

Praise For The Two Hearts of Kwasi Boachi

“[F]ascinatingly ambitious . . . . [A] haunting and highly unusual historical novel.” --The New York Times

“A classic tragedy . . . . This is a true story, fully and humanly imagined, and that is the measure of Japin’s accomplishment.” --San Francisco Chronicle

“A virtuoso recreation of an extraordinary life.” --London Daily Telegraph

“A mesmerizing tale.” --Time Out New York

“Deeply thought and intricately worked . . . . The whole is as seamless in its artistry as it is moving in its emotional investigations.” --Times Literary Supplement

“[A] powerful story . . . . a fascinating study of how people deal with difference” --Financial Times

“[A] tour de force . . . be prepared for surprises on every page.” --The Dallas Morning News

“[R]ich and risky . . . . A deeply humane book, a spectacularly exotic subject.” --New York Times Book Review

“[Q]uietly devastating . . . . [T]akes a subject that by now may look stale . . . and gives it back its rich and tragic color.” --New York Magazine

“Gorgeous . . . . [A] work that affirms the human heart’s resilience even as it reveals its darkest prejudice.” —Newsday