I’ve enjoyed Mark Fine’s writing since I read his novel, The Zebra Affaire. Delighted to find his Electric Eclectic novelette, Mark of the Hyena, I eagerly dove into reading it. Fine’s writing is almost poetic; his use of words musical. This short story captures all the beauty and harshness of sub-Sahara Africa. When the San Bushman of the Kalahari, N!xau, comes across the barely living Professor Werner, this cautionary tale of “civilized” man versus “savage” begins.
N!xau and his tribe have been pursuing an Oryx antelope when they discovered Werner, injured and dehydrated. Werner is in Africa fulfilling a bet; a bet he was confident he would win. The professor believes the San are “inept primitives.” However, it is the primitive San who provide Werner with some liquid which is acquired using fundamental skills; skills Werner, an egotistical American, knows nothing of. However, Werner views himself as superior to these diminutive people. Unable to communicate effectively, Werner is brought to the camp and cared for by N!xau and his wife, K/ora.
Instead of appreciating the skills of the people, Werner views them as ignorant. Judging himself as superior, the tall, pale man believes he is entitled to all they can offer. Neither aware of, or caring to understand, what the tribe values, he takes advantage of their generosity.
What Werner fails to appreciate is his lack of understanding of the ways of the people and the dangers of the situation show him to be the ignorant one. He is spied committing a heinous act by N!xau’s son, !Xi. Even a child in the desolate area is wiser than the well educated foreigner. The consequences of Werner’s false belief that he is the supreme being in this situation is proved wrong in a most delightful manner.
Fine’s ability to present characters as diverse as these is a tremendous skill. The Bushmen are simple; their wisdom born of generations of experience passed down orally. Werner’s education does him no good in the strange environment he has taken no time to familiarize himself with.
Fine educates the reader in this story. Set against the rich panorama of Africa, he reminds us that modern man is not always wiser or better equipped to survive in all settings. Sometimes it would be better to observe and listen; he might learn something valuable that can save his life. I highly recommend this well-written and profound story.
Win Amazon vouchers in the Electric Eclectic Prize Draw
This is a simple prize draw.
Just leave your review of an Electric Eclectic book on Amazon and email Electric Eclectic a copy.
That’s it. So easy to enter.
You will then be entered into a quarterly draw, giving you the chance to win a five pounds/dollars Amazon gift voucher.
Prize draws take place each quarter, the next is June, followed bySeptember, the final one this year will be in December… a nice Christmas gift for the lucky winner.
To qualify for entry into the any of the draws, reviews must be from verified purchases of an Electric Eclectic book and the review must be accepted by Amazon and shown on the relevant books page.
The more Electric Eclectic books you buy the more chances you have of winning and with so many authors and so many books to choose from it will be easy peasy!
Winners will be announced on the Electric Eclectic Facebook page
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Only one review, per purchase-per reader, will be accepted.
The draw is independently undertaken by CQ International Publishing, their decisions are final.
Gift vouchers will be in the form of Amazon e-gift cards and electronically emailed to the winner to the same address their draw entry was made.
No cash alternative is possible.