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 García Márquez and Mario Vargas Llosa in its use of language, its inventiveness, its humor, and its examination of issues of justice.
“I celebrate this novel for its sea village textures, its power-driven tides of story and characters, shaped and painted as if they were figures rising up from the buried truths of an ancient ocean and its peoples. The materials are multilayered with whale skin, song names, the breath of brujas and the whispers of old men and widowed women. There is tenderness, transcendence and the voyages into the unknown we all seek to enter and be reborn. Amaworo Wilson’s dexterity, abundant materials, culture lens, and visual genius give us a rare, ground-shaking novel, a tidal wave of prizes.” -Juan Felipe Herrera, United States Poet Laureate
“Nazaré grabs the reader from the first page and never lets go, bringing us into so many rich and colorful worlds. This brilliant novel will earn JJ Amaworo Wilson a spotlight on the main stage of world fiction.” -Daniel Chacón, American Book Award winner, author of Kafka in a Skirt
“Steeped in awe and everyday mysticism, Nazaré captured me with its stunning opening scene, and never let go. It is a story both timeless and urgent, and every passage is alight with humor, ingenuity, and surprise. A singular voice in contemporary fiction, JJ Amaworo Wilson offers readers both an energizing escape and a look at how to live with courage and clarity through absurd times.” -Adrienne Celt, author of End of the World House and Invitation to a Bonfire
“An epic of everywhere. Of autocrats and inequality, of profiteers and their police. But also of revenge and solidarity, of rebels and the righting of wrongs, and of Kin das Ondas—Kin of the Waves—a beach-comber and street urchin turned revolutionary. A luminous novel of the margins and the lumpen and their due.” -Raymond Craib, author of Adventure Capitalism
About the Author:
JJ Amaworo Wilson is a German-born Anglo-Nigerian-American writer. His 2016 novel, Damnificados, won three international awards, was an Oprah Top 10 pick, and has since been translated into French and German. His work has appeared in African American Journal, Justice Journal, The Penguin Book of New Black Writing, and many other publications. He has lived in eleven countries, traveled to 70, and speaks four languages. He is currently the writer-in-residence at Western New Mexico University, USA.