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Friday, January 12, 2007
I'm a little behind on this, but I wanted to note that Maud Newton, who has good taste in books, has pointed out a novel that was among her favorites of 2006 but was left out of discussions of the year's best books. Calvin Baker's Dominion, which was passed over for review, it seems, in most major papers and magazines, tells the story of an African family trying to establish a foothold and even an estate in America in the century preceding the Revolutionary War, time of slavery of course.
The opening of the novel, quoted by Newton in her endorsement, caught my eye:
They ate the dead that first winter on the land, such was their possession by vile hunger, mean desperation, and who can say what else other than it was unnatural. Any decent history will vouch for the truth of that. And, according to lore, the majority of the graveless sacrificed were uneasy souls, who walked certain nights on top of the earth -- haunting not just the ground of their defilement but all the contiguous lands -- until they possessed the entire continent as surely as if they had been more fortunate in life.