The Reverend's Apprentice
The Reverend's Apprentice, the third novel by David N. Odhiambo, is a powerful, tragicomic novel about power, culture, and identity politics in contemporary America, as seen through the eyes of an African student. Jonah Ayot is a graduate student from a fictional central African nation, studying in a fictional American city some time after the US invasion of Iraq in 2003; the novel mirrors Jonah's own struggle as a newcomer to American life, trying to organize his perceptions around an identity that is global rather than parochial. But those perceptions become muddied in the reality of the new war zone--on American soil, where the foreign becomes familiar, and the familiar is no longer what it used to be.
Dissonant, frantic, and full of the white noise of a culture at war with itself, The Reverend's Apprentice takes the familiar story of the stranger in a strange land to new, disturbing, breathtaking new levels.
The American magazine Black Issues Book Review has said: "David Odhiambo joins a third guard of African novelists made up of peers like Uganda's Moses Isegawa and Nigeria's Chris Abani. The books of this younger generation of African writers (heirs to the continent's greats from Chinua Achebe to Mark Mathabane) shed the starched language and steep romanticism of Africa's literary tradition to expose the rawer, hipper, more vulgar aspects of life as lived by most Africans today."
The Reverend's Apprentice is that recognizable sort of hybird-genre novel, its technical sophistication within the lineage of David Foster Wallace, Laurence Sterne, and the Bible. Odhiambo has craftsmanly chops: a fine ear for the music of language, both in Nabokovian wordplay and the jarring bluntness of street speech, plus economy and finesse when it comes to his own use of samples from the canon.... Here is an authentic and powerful writer channeling the anxieties, disjunctions, arrogances, and strivings of our time.- Rain Taxi
-Rain Taxi Review of Books
The linguistically playful third novel from Odhiambo follows the picaresque adventures of an African grad student in Pennsylvania imperiling his inheritance-and sanity-with lustful exploits.- Publishers Weekly
Despite the influence of literary history, The Reverend's Apprentice feels modern, verging on experimental. It's full of varied voices, from the Rev to the street lingo of Bingo Jefferson.- Vancouver Sun