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The Wished-For Country

Wayne Karlin

Average Review Rating Average Rating 9/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher : Curbstone Press

Published : 2002

Copyright : Wayne Karlin 2002

ISBN-10 : PB 1-880684-89-6
ISBN-13 : PB 978-1-880684-89-4

Publisher's Write-Up

The Wished For Country is set during the founding period of the Maryland colony, during the mid-17th century. The novel focuses on the entwined stories of James Hallam, a carpenter and indentured servant; Ezekiel, an African slave brought to Maryland from Barbados; and Tawzin, a Piscataway Indian, kidnapped to England when a child, and now back in America.

While Hallam goes on to become a soldier and a player in the politics of the Maryland colony, Ezekiel and Tawzin become the centre of an outcast group of blacks, whites, and Indians, who find themselves striving to reinvent themselves and their world.

The stories of these three men, the women who love them, and the community they form, bring to vivid life the experiences of those who came to America pulled by a dream of what could be shaped from an emptiness that embodied promise, of those who were unwillingly brought to be the instruments of that dream, and of those who saw the shape of their world forever changed by the coming of the Europeans.

'The Wished For Country illuminates an aspect of our history that we dare not forget. Wayne Karlin’s new book is an enthralling and important novel.'

Robert Olen Butler

'A powerful and wonderful recreation, deeply imagined and richly detailed. This is a book to be cherished and [one hopes] highly honoured.'

George Garrett

'Again Wayne Karlin has demonstrated himself to be a serious artist who is concerned not only about what story is told but how! He has woven together strands of history and humanness and art into a wonderful whole.'

Lucille Clifton
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Reader Reviews

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Review by Paul Lappen (130604) Rating (9/10)

Review by Paul Lappen
Rating 9/10
This novel takes place in the mid-1600s, during the founding of the Maryland colony, in what is now Maryland and southern New Jersey. It was a time of seemingly constant conflict between the various nearby Indian tribes, whether for land or beaver pelts to sell to the white man, conflict that got brutal and bloody.

The story revolves around three men: James Hallam, an indentured servant and carpenter, Ezekiel, an African slave who came to Maryland by way of Barbados, and Tawzin, a Piscataway Indian, who was kidnapped to England as a child, and is now back in America.

Ezekiel is also a skilled carpenter, and he and Hallam make quite a name for themselves as house builders, when he doesn't chain him up at night to keep Ezekiel from escaping (Ezekiel is still a slave). One day, in a fit of rage, Hallam chops off one of Ezekiel's hands, after cutting the sixth finger off Ezekiel's other hand, and wearing the finger around his neck, like a talisman.

Hallam goes on to become a soldier and influential person in the politics of the colony. Tawzin and Ezekiel become leaders of a ragtag group of whites, blacks and Indians trying to reinvent themselves in an ever-changing world. It's almost like they are starting their own tribe.

This is the story of three different kinds of people. There are those who came to America with a dream full of promise and possibility, those who were brought against their wills to be the instruments of that dream, and the natives whose lives and world were forever altered by the arrival of the white man.

This book is excellent. It does a fine job at shedding light on a not-well-known part of American history. It is also a rather slow novel, so patience will be needed on the part of the reader. But, by the end of the story, that patience will be well rewarded. This is a gem of a story.
Paul Lappen (13th June 2004)

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