Reviewed by Abiy Yonas H.
… The choice is between the child with no mist in his eyes and those gods who want to maintain all men under their spell of ignorance and deprivation.” (P. 281)
Publisher: Rehobot Printers
Tariku’s debut novel Eyes and Mist could be considered as the first fiction written in English by a non-diaspora Ethiopian since the ‘70s. Though this one is his first published book, Tariku has many unpublished literary works, especially poems.
Based on the story of the untold genius and ‘father of light’, Nikola Tesla, the story revolves around a conspiracy involving international groups from China, Europe and Africa. As a prologue, the story goes back to the year 1941 when a man (Nikola Tesla) handed down a leather clad briefcase to a young man. About seventy years later, the story comes alive with breaking news on the national TV of the surrender of an Ethiopian neurosurgeon, Professor Netsanet, to the Addis Ababa police. Professor Netsanet has disappeared for three years after being convicted of abduction and using a dozen innocent autistic children as guinea pigs for her medical experiments, and the sudden death of the Chinese billionaire Chiang Lu in London. A child named Abi and a secret code named “Project T” are what relate Professor Netsanet and Chiang Lu.
Abi is an eight year old autistic child. Exceptionally gifted, the child could see people’s mind and read their memories; besides figuring out people’s particular experiences with the accompanying emotions, he can have a full access to people’s abilities and can do what they do only in lesser proficiency. The neurosurgeon, Prof. Netsanet, has helped this child by fixing his frequent seizures and autism and scale up his mind control.
One of the many pleasing surprises I found in Eyes and Mist is how Abi’s conditions relate with Nikola Tesla’s exceptional gift of visualization and his contributions of scientific inventions to our world.
A further twist in the book is its meticulous narration of a group comprised of businessmen, intellectuals and professionals, who has intended to carry out what they call ‘Project T’ in three African countries: Ethiopia, D.R. Congo and Ghana with the idea of offering free wireless electric energy for all humankind and the battle between this group and an opponent group who lives at the expenses of the many and hates anything that is ‘free’;i.e., whose businesses flourish with the presence of wars, conflicts, and crisis in this world.
The story interestingly associates events that had threatened the existence of human in history ranging from the black slave trade, to the Nazi’s holocaust, and even to the massacres of Derge regime in the name of red-terror. With all such atrocious moments, however, there were people who single-handedly tried their best to save people’s lives.
When I first read the book, I barely know about Nikola Tesla. After I made my own researches, I now wonder how history has somehow overlooked such a remarkable genius who dreamed of giving the world an unlimited supply of energy.
In addition the author’s competence as a writer which is visible in its literary quality is impressing: it defies the usual conventional kind in that it is ‘plot-less’in a way that the style conforms to the issue it addresses. It gives readers complete autonomy to make their own choices, too, and to resolve the conflict on their own ways.
The other impressing aspect of the book is its novelty on its issue. Today’s technological development of our world owes its existence, to a great extent, to the one great genius, yet unacknowledged person, Nikola Tesla. Based on his dream of offering free wireless energy for all humankind, the book tries to integrate the ever neglected problem of children- autism – in relation to a powerful creative visualization of brain related problems. The last is that of the language of the work. Simplicity, diction and flow of the language should be worth mentioning.
As his first published work of literature (in spite of the fact that he has been writing for more than ten years), it is an honor to congratulate Tariku for his book, Eyes and Mist. Anyone who reads this book could easily see what a promising, talented writer Tariku is and longs to look forward to another good literary work that could certainly be canonical.
But, Eyes and Mist host some unnecessary details of ‘telling’ by the narrator that could make one’s reading boring and hinders one’s pace. It is far better to ‘show’ than to ‘tell’. It is also better not to ignore readers’ imagination, which enjoys little space throughout the book.
The book also needs a thorough editing for there are mechanical errors that threaten to compromise the otherwise flawless literary quality of the book. Save for those details, Eyes and Mist is an out of league literary work from other Ethiopian writers and yet an enjoyable read worth recommending.