A woman who deftly navigates several worlds as an international trade lawyer and diplomat from her home in Harare, Zimbabwe, Petina Gappah is also a fiction writer of note, the author of two story collections, an earlier novel (The Book of Memory), and, now, the masterful, historically-based novel she is here with tonight, Out of Darkness, Shining Light (Scribner).
Based on some historical reality - the removal of the dead body of Dr. David Livingstone from the African interior, “Petina Gappah’s Out of Darkness, Shining Light describes a world on the cusp of change. Her narrators, Halima and Jacob, both former slaves—along with a cohort of sixty-some Africans and Arabs—carry a dead muzungu (white person) for nine months across impossible 19th-century African terrain. While they ultimately reach their destination, delivering a wizened body to the awaiting arms of their future colonizers, the greater catastrophe is still to come. Petina Gappah knows what she writes; her historical and cultural insights add texture and veracity to every page. A powerful novel, beautifully told, Out of Darkness, Shining Light reveals as much about the present circumstances as the past that helped create them.” —Jesmyn Ward.
“Engrossing, beautiful, and deeply imaginative, Out of Darkness, Shining Light, is a novel that lends voice to those who appeared only as footnotes in history, yet whose final, brave act of loyalty and respect changed the course of it. An incredible and important book by a masterful writer.”—Yaa Gyasi.