Picks and Pans Review: The Prophet of Zongo Street

updated 08/22/2005 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/22/2005 AT 01:00 AM EDT

By Mohammed Naseehu Ali

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Zongo Street is a vibrant Muslim community in Kumasi, Ghana, whose population includes a religious zealot who terrifies neighbors, a taxi-driving ghost, and a woman who dwarfs her tea-seller husband and shakes down his creditor. Several of this beguiling collection's 10 stories are written as quirky fables; others read like richly detailed ethnographies. A few explore what it means to be, like the author, an African in the U.S. And one, "Faith," defies categorization, but a Palm Pilot-wielding Recording Angel figures prominently. All of it is powerful writing that broadens our notion of contemporary fiction.

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