by JJ Amaworo Wilson
Nazaré tells the story of a peasants’ revolt in the polyglot city of Balaal. The story begins with a miracle. A homeless boy sees a whale washed up on the beach. He alerts the local fishermen, and soon the whole town is trying and failing to push it back into the ocean. With just the boy left to accompany the whale now in its dying throes, a freak wave pulls the creature back into the sea. This is an omen. Change is coming.
The boy and the washerwoman who adopts him cobble together a ramshackle army of fishermen, shopkeepers, lapsed nuns, anarchist bats, and an itinerant camel. They attempt to end the reign of the dictator who rules over Balaal. Their attempt involves pitched battles, farcical trials, rooftop escapes, and sun-parched wanderings in the wilderness. Looming over the disparate cast of characters is the legend of the giant wave—Nazaré—that will one day annihilate everyone and everything in the city.
Nazaré is an adventure and a parable that pits the oppressed against the oppressor. The work has been likened to that of Gabriel Garc a M rquez and Mario Vargas Llosa in its use of language, its inventiveness, its humor, and its examination of issues of justice.