Synopses & Reviews
This lean, raw, and surprising debut is a deeply moving and powerful story of Moses, a nine-year-old survivor of the harsh streets of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Moses longs for something outside the grim existence he has known. He and his friend Kioso hitch a ride out of the city on the back of a truck only to find themselves in the wilderness where their street wisdom no longer helps them as they encounter poisonous snakes, cruel jungle travelers, and a brutal shoot-out with elephant poachers. Separated from Kioso and on the verge of starvation, Moses is saved and sheltered by an unlikely cast of characters, including a prostitute, a crippled fruit vendor, and a hunter-gatherer.
Unsentimental, honest, brutal, and lyrical, this hypnotically written book provides insight into the issues that affect modern Africa: the relationship between human beings and the wilderness, the needs of the displaced and the dispossessed, and the ties that bind us together. Mark Thornton uses the experiences of one unfortunate but resourceful child to juxtapose urban homelessness with societies found in the wild, showing that even in places of violence and indifference, human compassion can be found.
"In Thornton's debut novel, a young Tanzanian boy is torn between the savagery of nature and the equal savagery of mankind. Abandoned on the streets of Dar es Salaam, 11-year-old Moses scratches out a meager existence with his friend, Kioso. On impulse, they jump onto a passing truck and don't jump off until they are far away from the city. Not knowing how to survive in the wilderness, they try to make their way back home. They get separated, but later are happily reunited at a school in Dar es Salaam. Moses, increasingly restless, refuses to be constrained by four walls and once again heads for the wilderness, accompanied, as before, by Kioso. This time, tragedy strikes and Moses finds himself on his own until he is rescued by a hunter named Boyd and Toroye, his nomadic guide. At this point, Moses witnesses a cold-blooded act that makes him long to be back home. Although the novel is short, it includes a long list of terrible things that happen to Moses, who exhibits the combination of resourcefulness and tenacity necessary to survive in such a harsh environment. Thornton excels in showing a harrowing adult world through the eyes of a child who has been forced to grow up early. In the end, this is the rare work of fiction about childhood that refuses to admit any sentimentality into the narrative." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"I like Kid Moses
very much! The prose is wonderfully quiet and controlled . . . very good writing indeed." Peter Matthiessen
"Kid Moses is a lyrical, touching and profound book." The Witness, Durban, South Africa
"An open-ended odyssey, as restless and contemplative as a traveler in the trackless veld. . . . This is a wonderfully honest, unsentimental and brutal look at issues that are affecting Africa today." Cape Times, South Africa
"An exquisite narrative, harrowing, yet poignant." Bookslive
About the Author
Mark Thornton, American-born, has spent twenty years as a wilderness guide in Tanzania where he is active in conservation efforts.