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Taty Went West
by Nikhil Singh

Reviewed by Galen Strickland

I received a free ebook of this title from Net Galley and Rosarium Publishing in exchange for an honest review. My comments will be brief. I started over three times because it was so unusual I wasn't connecting with it, and then I stalled on it a couple of days ago. I probably should finish it before reviewing, but I don't have time for that, too many other books to get to. It was challenging, but mainly frustrating.

Imagine Hunter S. Thompson high on acid, writing a novel based on Hieronymous Bosch's The Last Judgment, then it was adapted to film by Alejandro Jodorowsky, with William S. Burroughs writing the novelization. That couldn't be any weirder than what Nikhil Singh has done. Taty Went West will be released in the US on May 22, but it's already at least three years old. Excerpts, or a serialized version, appeared in 2015 in the Kenyan periodical Kwani?, later as a full novel, and was out in the UK last year. It's hard to categorize. Is it a post-apocalyptic dystopia or an alternate world fantasy? Both, or something else entirely?

Taty is a teenage girl who has run away from her home in the Lowlands. Her father is mostly absent due to his work. Her mother's psychotic behavior is periodically held in check by drugs provided by the government. Taty's younger brother is dead, and she feels guilty about that. She hopes to reach the Outzone, a mysterious place beyond the jungles, known as the Land of Strangers, home to lost things and those who wish to get lost. She is kidnapped and impressed into the employ of the imp Alphonse Guava, whose other operatives include the robotic Number Nun, and Romeo the Dealer. I didn't really understand what she was tasked to do, and I'm not sure she did either. Many people have been altered or augmented either surgically or electronically, and perhaps animals have been made more human-like, or humans transformed into animals(?). Alphonse has allies, such as the private detective Kenzo Cold-Eyes, as well as rivals like Dr. Dali, who apparently has brought a predatory symbiote to the Outzone from another dimension.

I can't say it is good at world-building, more like various set pieces that are intriguing but don't connect into a complete picture of what the author was trying to do. It is ambitious, but a bit more challenging for the mood I'm in at the moment. It's going to have a limited appeal, and I can't recommend it at this time. I may finish it one of these days, and if so I'll edit this page.


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Nikhil Singh

2018 (US)
2015 (Kenya)

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