Somota is society divided by change, and by memories. When A. arrives in the protectorate shortly after the first world war, he is unsure of what to expect. Employed by the government as a linguistic anthropologist, he is tasked with documenting the benefits of the new order and reporting them to the Reverend G. But what are these benefits? In his travels throughout the region, A. finds only the physical and emotional scars of conquest, and of routine colonial administration. Yet, even as the indigenous culture is being reduced to mere fragments, he also learns of a sublime literature responding to those historical traumas. One storyteller in particular, Kehinta, begins to reveal to A. just how much has been lost. A profoundly beautiful novel commenting on the horrors of colonial oppression, trauma, love, and the power of story.
- Selected for SPD Handpicked
Imaginative and gripping.
– Noam Chomsky, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
A People Without Shame is an artistic triumph composed by a master craftsman whose courageous eye makes all too vivid the abundant horrors suffered by beautiful people and their culture at the hands of soul-dead colonizers eager to extinguish them. Patrick Hogan is – as Kurosawa says an artist must be – one who does not look away. Inside this grand and ambitious novel beats an urgent and epic dirge written with magic enough to awaken our collective humanity to the poetry preserved in the raging hearts of people whose stories refuse to die.
– Matt Cashion, author of Last Words of the Holy Ghost
Hogan’s absorbing and stylistically inventive novel offers a stirring meditation on the cost of colonial appropriation. Told with visceral prose and cinematic sweep, it’s also a unique tale of unrequited love. Kehinta, the guardian of her people’s epic poem, is Hogan’s great achievement, magnetic yet always just beyond our grasp, and A’s quest to understand her – to wrest the meaning of a poem from her – brings all the twisted moralities of the colonial enterprise into razor-sharp relief.
– Ken Kwapis, director of He’s Just Not That Into You and The Office