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Eddie Signwriter    by Adam Schwartzman order for
Eddie Signwriter
by Adam Schwartzman
Order:  USA  Can
Pantheon, 2010 (2010)

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* *   Reviewed by Barbara Lingens

In Ghana, a boy sent to school in a city bigger than the town he comes from is befriended by a warm-hearted restaurant owner. The owner's niece is a beautiful girl who at first snubs then befriends him. The restaurant owner encourages the innocent youngsters, and their relationship becomes intimate, shocking the neighbors. Shortly afterwards, the restaurant owner is found dead, and the neighborhood blames the young couple.

It is from this that the boy, Kwasi Edward Michael Dankoh, runs. Away from his own family but in the hands of another great-hearted one, he becomes Eddie Signwriter and shows quite a bit of talent. But his past continues to haunt him, and he finally flees to Senegal and then Paris. Along the way he is helped by friends. But in Paris he learns that even friends, if they have no papers, can be lost overnight.

Adam Schwartzman is a South African writer who in this story has created memorable characters, particularly Eddie's uncle, Festus Edjura, and his mentor, Big Henry. These men help him learn what it is to be a man and how to forgive and free himself of the past.

Although there is much to recommend in this book, there are also questions of clarity in the story (it is quite allusive) and about the women, particularly Eddie's young girl friend (what happened to her?) and the restaurant owner (why did she act the way she did?) Here's hoping we will be able to read more of Schwartzman's work.

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