The Ministry of Hope (Hardcover)
Marion Boyars Publishers, 9780714530154, 320pp.
Publication Date: July 1, 2000
Kwaku is back; a small-time chiseller and ineffective healer in a village in Guyana but now down in the dumps: his wife has gone blind, his twin sons brutalize him, he is toppled from his perch as a healer and becomes once again the laughing stock of all and sundry. But fate intervenes, and Kwaku's fortunes are resurrected as he makes his way to Georgetown to become a dealer in 'antique' chamber pots. With a recommendation and some borrowed cash from an old woman whose son has become a government minister, he embarks on an odyssey in search of riches, only to find himself a lowly servant of the corrupt minister who steals his ideas and sends him on demeaning errands designed to further the minister's financial scams, sexual peccadillos and political intrigues. Kwaku now faces the dilemma of going under - the fate of so many who migrate from the country to the town - or adapting his character to suit his urban existence. What distinguishes this novel is the closely observed psychological metamorphosis of Kwaku. Just barely escaping from a murderous gang, he finally succeeds in establishing himself as a respected, wealthy citizen - whilst remaining, of course, his own inimitable, infuriating, brilliantly engaging self. In this bright and comic novel, Roy Heath deals vividly with the social and political conflicts and conundrums facing the nouveaux riches in the third world and the staggeringly poor, emerging into independence and unheard-of prospects. The colourful language of the characters is perfectly captured, and their shenanigans and valour are depicted with wit and compassion.