I’ve posted about Minister Faust before, and how much I admire his intellect and his talent as a writer. His ALCHEMISTS OF KUSH is a fantastic read, told so well that after I closed the covers I missed the characters as if they were real people. The book contains two parallel stories (The Book of Then and the Book of Now) about Sudanese “lost boys.” Both lost their fathers to war and were separated from their mothers. Each ends up mentored by a man who gives him the means of self transformation. One is a teenager living in Kush, the Northeastern district of modern Edmonton, Canada, where many African immigrants live. The other is Hru, son of Usir and Aset, also known as the Egyptian falcon god Horus, who lived 7,000 years ago along the Nile. The whole is speculative fiction with a social realism objective.
Minister Faust, an artist, author and activist, tells The Book of Now with his singular voice and a huge amount of energy that keeps the story humming. The story is about Raphael Garang, a boy who conquers the demons of his past and gains the ability to change himself, and his journey of self transformation had me turning pages as if it were a thriller. Raphael has a chance encounter with another boy who would become his best friend and a man who would become a mystic mentor, introducing him to a philosophy of self-transformation called the Alchemy, which the author based on the mystic society Nation of Gods and Earths of the 1960s. This transformation doesn’t happen overnight; Raphael has a lot of baggage, and is immature has hell, resulting in him making as many messes himself as are thrust upon him. In many ways, he’s his own worst enemy–just like most of us, I think–keeping him from achieving his potential. Minister Faust creates his characters with love, and they interact with a charm that will tickle you, with the narrative swept forward with an energy I can even now hardly believe the author could sustain for so many pages.
The Book of Then buttresses the modern narrative, and this is where the speculative fiction shines as we are introduced to Hru and his trials in the Savage Lands. The stories contain many parallels, and the Alchemy uses the myth of Horus as a mystical text, further tying them together. These parts of the book are told in a leaner, crisper style, in keeping with the voice of myth.
THE ALCHEMISTS OF KUSH is a great book with charming characters, interesting story of self transformation, and enough philosophy and mysticism to keep you thinking long after the book is over. Highly recommended.