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La Nucia, Alicante, Spain, 2008/07/14 - Philip Spires announces the publication of his second novel A Fool's Knot. Like his first book, Mission, A Fool's Knot is set in Kenya and features the same characters. The novel deals with how people, societies and cultures change as they develop.
A Fool’s Knot is set in mid-1970s Kenya and deals with different events in the lives of the same set of vivid characters in Mission, Philip Spires’s first novel. The plot is loosely based on a crime that happened on the very weekend the author started working in Migwani’s secondary school in 1974.
A Fool's Knot is a sensitive portrait of John Mwangangi’s attempt to reclaim his cultural identity and, at the same time, stimulate change. The contradictions he confronts in his campaign against the grinding poverty of his people lead almost inevitably to conflict.
John Mwangangi is an idealist. He turns his back on a successful legal career in London to return to his home in Migwani, a small, poor town in Kitui District, eastern Kenya. His ambition is to assist his country's development, to create a model that others might emulate. But in trying to rediscover his roots and his very identity, old tensions resurface and new battles have to be fought. John gradually finds himself isolated by irreconcilable demands, excluded from his own culture, never fully admitted to the one he adopts. His father seeks proof of his son's integrity and insists that John's daughter be initiated into adulthood, an act that John's wife would never sanction. When these tensions force the family apart, John finds solace in the company of Janet Rowlandson, a young British teacher, who becomes more than a friend. It is clear that someone will try to force the issue. Old tensions emerge, relationships break down and eventually an entire community bears the pain of the conflict that ensues.
A Fool’s Knot addresses cultural and social characteristics of the local people intimately and sensitively. The book’s style also owes much to the Kikamba proverbs the author collected during his time in Kenya. Indeed, its title is drawn from the proverb, “Don’t ask a fool to untie another fool’s knot”. Though some aspects of the book are based on real events, A Fool’s Knot is presented as fiction, a fascinating novel that confronts the reader with the conflicts that arise when social and economic change compete with tradition.
Philip Spires was born in Wakefield, West Yorkshire in the United Kingdom and grew up in Sharlston, then a mining village. After London University he decided to devote his life to education. Following two years in Kenya, he spent sixteen years working in inner London before moving to Brunei and then the United Arab Emirates. His experiences in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East have led to his passionate interest in the personal, cultural and social consequences of education, concepts that provide the scenes of conflict that his writing explores. Since 2003, he has lived in Spain, completing a PhD in the economic and cultural contribution of education in the Philippines and two novels, Mission and, now, A Fool’s Knot.
Book title: A Fool’s Knot
Author: Philip Spires
Publisher: Libros International
Date of publication: 20 May 2008
Number of pages: 308