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In 1837 worden Kwasi en Kwame, twee Afrikaanse prinsjes, aan koning Willem I geschonken als onderpand voor de illegale slavenhandel van de Nederlandse regering. In Delft worden de zwarte jongens als Hollanders opgevoed. Terwijl Kwasi zich uit alle macht aanpast en een echte Nederlander wil worden, vecht Kwame om zijn Afrikaanse identiteit te behouden en op een dag te kunne In 1837 worden Kwasi en Kwame, twee Afrikaanse prinsjes, aan koning Willem I geschonken als onderpand voor de illegale slavenhandel van de Nederlandse regering. In Delft worden de zwarte jongens als Hollanders opgevoed. Terwijl Kwasi zich uit alle macht aanpast en een echte Nederlander wil worden, vecht Kwame om zijn Afrikaanse identiteit te behouden en op een dag te kunnen terugkeren naar zijn volk. Jaren later, aan het begin van de twintigste eeuw, kijkt de bejaarde prins Kwasi Boachi vanaf zijn Javaanse theeplantage terug op hun buitengewone levens. Pas dan ontdekt hij het complot waarmee de Nederlandse regering zijn Indische carrière heeft gedwarsboomd.


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In 1837 worden Kwasi en Kwame, twee Afrikaanse prinsjes, aan koning Willem I geschonken als onderpand voor de illegale slavenhandel van de Nederlandse regering. In Delft worden de zwarte jongens als Hollanders opgevoed. Terwijl Kwasi zich uit alle macht aanpast en een echte Nederlander wil worden, vecht Kwame om zijn Afrikaanse identiteit te behouden en op een dag te kunne In 1837 worden Kwasi en Kwame, twee Afrikaanse prinsjes, aan koning Willem I geschonken als onderpand voor de illegale slavenhandel van de Nederlandse regering. In Delft worden de zwarte jongens als Hollanders opgevoed. Terwijl Kwasi zich uit alle macht aanpast en een echte Nederlander wil worden, vecht Kwame om zijn Afrikaanse identiteit te behouden en op een dag te kunnen terugkeren naar zijn volk. Jaren later, aan het begin van de twintigste eeuw, kijkt de bejaarde prins Kwasi Boachi vanaf zijn Javaanse theeplantage terug op hun buitengewone levens. Pas dan ontdekt hij het complot waarmee de Nederlandse regering zijn Indische carrière heeft gedwarsboomd.

30 review for De zwarte met het witte hart

  1. 4 out of 5

    Issicratea

    This is a fascinating novel, especially by virtue of its subject matter, although the writing is also very good. It narrates a true story, of the type so extraordinary that you couldn’t responsibly make it up. The novel recounts the lives of two ten-year-old Asante princes, the cousins Kwasi Boachi and Kwame Poku, who were sent to the Netherlands in 1837 as surety for a shady workaround deal following the abolition of slavery that allowed Africans to be recruited “voluntarily” as indentured sold This is a fascinating novel, especially by virtue of its subject matter, although the writing is also very good. It narrates a true story, of the type so extraordinary that you couldn’t responsibly make it up. The novel recounts the lives of two ten-year-old Asante princes, the cousins Kwasi Boachi and Kwame Poku, who were sent to the Netherlands in 1837 as surety for a shady workaround deal following the abolition of slavery that allowed Africans to be recruited “voluntarily” as indentured soldiers for the army of the Dutch East Indies. This is a grim and interesting episode in a tract of colonial history that deserves to be better known. If I have gathered correctly, a direct translation of the original title of this novel would be The Black Man with a White Heart. This conveys the themes of the novel better than the blander, or more evasive, title chosen for the English version. Kwasi and Kwame, in Japin’s novel, epitomize two paths that may be taken by ethnic and cultural outsiders: that of assimilation to the new culture (Kwasi), and that of rejection (Kwame). Both are represented as tragic: one overtly; the other more subtly. An intimate violence marks these two boys for life, even if one ultimately manages to make some kind of peace with his fate. The novel sounds schematic, set out in that way, but the characterization is sufficiently sophisticated to nuance the sharp outlines of the argument. Both characters are endearing—the troubled, sensitive, artistic Kwame perhaps more obviously than the more prosaic Kwasi. It’s a credit to Japin, however, that he chooses the more compromising and compromised character, Kwasi, as the main focalizer and protagonist, rather than Kwame. Kwasi is also clearly the better documented figure, both archivally, and (rather wonderfully) in photographs. I love this magnificently dapper image of him with his children, in his seventies in Java: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kwasi_Bo.... Even though the subject matter is often painful, this is an enjoyable novel to read. It has a broad canvas, spanning Ghana, Holland, Germany, and colonial-era Indonesia, and a varied cast list, including quite a number of historical figures besides Kwasi and Kwame (most intriguingly, for me, the disaffected colonial administrator and novelist Multatuli, whose novel Max Havelaar: Or the Coffee Auctions of the Dutch Trading Company I think I may read as a follow-up). The Two Hearts is also very nicely written; and the English translation seems excellent, in that one is never conscious of reading in translation. There’s perhaps something a little dilute about the pacing of this novel—this would be my main criticism. For me, the core of the work was the long section in which the two young boys grow up slowly at school in Delft, coping with crippling homesickness after their brutally abrupt cultural transition, and gradually coming to a consciousness of their strange, ambiguous social position, as royalty, on the one hand, and despised racial others, on the other. The later parts of the novel, though perfectly fine and sometimes quite absorbing, never quite recouped the intensity of this section, and were occasionally slightly meandering. I could forgive the novel a lot for this very fine central section, though; and I suspect this is a work that will stay with me for a long time.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Elise

    A heartbreaking and beautifully written book about an African prince, Kwasi, and his cousin, Kwame, taken from their homeland by a Dutch explorer with the permission of Kwasi's father, the Ashanti King, to be raised and educated in Holland. This is a unique tale of historical fiction based on the true story of real people, and it raises important questions about race, class, and what is gained and what is lost in the process of assimilation. Japin does a spectacular job of recreating 19th centur A heartbreaking and beautifully written book about an African prince, Kwasi, and his cousin, Kwame, taken from their homeland by a Dutch explorer with the permission of Kwasi's father, the Ashanti King, to be raised and educated in Holland. This is a unique tale of historical fiction based on the true story of real people, and it raises important questions about race, class, and what is gained and what is lost in the process of assimilation. Japin does a spectacular job of recreating 19th century Kumasi, Africa, Delft, Holland and Java in the Dutch East Indies at the turn of the century. The Two Hearts of Kwasi Boachi was not what I would call a page-turner, but it is a beautiful tale full of empathy and tragedy, one that I think every human being would be made better for reading. I highly recommend it.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Amelia

    "Conversely, the red plant itself burns a brighter red when set off by the green than when it grows among its peers. In the bed I always reserved for poinsettia seedlings, there was little to distinguish one plant from its neighbours. My poinsettia did not turn scarlet until I planted it in new surroundings. Colour is not something one has, colour is bestowed on one by others." "What can we do, we who are different from the rest?... I pondered the advantages and disadvantages of the options open "Conversely, the red plant itself burns a brighter red when set off by the green than when it grows among its peers. In the bed I always reserved for poinsettia seedlings, there was little to distinguish one plant from its neighbours. My poinsettia did not turn scarlet until I planted it in new surroundings. Colour is not something one has, colour is bestowed on one by others." "What can we do, we who are different from the rest?... I pondered the advantages and disadvantages of the options open to me. When my bandages were finally removed I could see only two: 1. Stand out. Cultivate that which makes you different from those around you. Understand where the differences lie, for better or worse, but maintain your eccentricity, cherish it as the unique property it is. This struck me as an infinitely lonely road. Each step would require a fresh struggle with fate... 2. Blend in. Count the differences and ease them out of the way wherever possible. That entails constant adjustment of the personality, disguising it, altering it to fit that of the other. Take note of what you value in your environment and imitate it. Seek attention only for the few attributes you have in common with the other, and conceal the rest... Kwame took the first path, I the second. The one seems brave, the other cowardly, but that is nothing but prejudice, the facile judgment of one who has never stood alone. Battling with the self is no easier than battling with the rest - just less noticeable. Nevertheless, the poinsettia will never blend in with the tea bushes." For all that this is a - true - story that took place nearly two hundred years ago, it bears lessons which are just as important today, lessons about race, about nationality, identity and about the huge downfalls of ethnocentrism, particularly the role it plays in politics. Lack of cultural understanding on both sides damaged - no, destroyed - the lives of these two men. Kwasi died in poverty, abandoned by the Holland he had so desperately tried to become a part of, and Kwame tragically took his own life, rejected by the mother country to which he had remained ever faithful. Not a happy message, but an important one.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Hanna de Koning

    I read this book for Dutch literature. It was pretty hard to get through this book in the beginning, later on it got a easier. I loved Japin's writinh style, it's beautiful. This book was a little boring at times, but overall really interesting.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Taigiseadh

    If I could, I would have given this book half a star. It is verbose and b o r i n g. Luckily, I borrowed this book from a friend so did not feel put out by having spent a hard-earned dime on it.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Klaas

    A moving story based on the true life 19th century experience of two black African princes being sent from their homeland into a white Holland where, although still privileged and mixing with nobility, they are subjected to a subtle but pervasive race based discrimination based on underlying cultural assumptions of white supremacy. I found the mix of fiction and non-fiction very engaging and contrary to my expectations the book was a real page turner. Although set 100-150 years in the past, i th A moving story based on the true life 19th century experience of two black African princes being sent from their homeland into a white Holland where, although still privileged and mixing with nobility, they are subjected to a subtle but pervasive race based discrimination based on underlying cultural assumptions of white supremacy. I found the mix of fiction and non-fiction very engaging and contrary to my expectations the book was a real page turner. Although set 100-150 years in the past, i think the reflections on class, race and the personal impact of cultural beliefs that it invokes are still highly relevant in the 21st century. Great book.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Tom Wascoe

    Extraordinary book. A novel based on a true life. In exploring the journey of two African princes through their attempted education and acculturation by the Dutch colonial system, the book also explores issues of being different, racism, the meaning of belonging, democracy's impact on the minority, the colonial system and the impact of those issues on a human being. Thoughtful, provoking and disturbing but an excellent story that is extremely well-researched and well-written.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Marni

    A really interesting book based on a true story. Imagine two 10-year-old African princes being taken to Holland and enrolled in a boarding school...the story is about their lives after.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Vera

    The most fascinating thing about this book is that it is a true story. In 1837, two young African princes were sent to the Netherlands as a gift to King William II, as part of negotiations between the Ashanti king and the Dutch. Although slave trade was officially forbidden, both parties were still interested in the "recruitment" of African men in order to work for the Dutch in the Dutch Indies. The crown prince and his nephew were are to the Delft to receive education, and it was planned that t The most fascinating thing about this book is that it is a true story. In 1837, two young African princes were sent to the Netherlands as a gift to King William II, as part of negotiations between the Ashanti king and the Dutch. Although slave trade was officially forbidden, both parties were still interested in the "recruitment" of African men in order to work for the Dutch in the Dutch Indies. The crown prince and his nephew were are to the Delft to receive education, and it was planned that they would return to Ashanti as black missionaries eventually. One of the princes, Kwasi Boachi, tries his best to adapt the Dutch culture, whereas the crown prince, Kwame Poku, is unable to do so. The two, who were inseparable when they first left their home country, grow apart. The story is told by the 74-year-old Kwasi, who is writing down his memoirs in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia). He tells his story, and the reader accompanies him through his struggle, his wish to assimilate and his desire to belong to the majority - the whites - but although most people treat the princes kindly and they are welcome guests of the royal family, it becomes poignantly clear that they are considered an attraction rather than friends. After completing his education, Kwame returns to Africa and wishes to live with his people again. But he has forgotten his native language, a fact which disappoint his uncle, the king, so much, that he denies Kwames return. Kwasi desperately tries to remember his language, but this only leads to a state of delirium, and eventually he commits suicide. He was an outcast as a black guy in the white Dutch culture, and he was an outcast as a Dutch educated person among the Africans. Kwasi, however, continues education in Weimar, Germany, and becomes a mining engineer. He is sent to the Dutch East Indies and hopes to become successful there. However, he is faced with racism as he had never really experienced it - by the hatred of a former class mate, but even more by a more internalized feeling of the Dutch authorities: that a black man is of a minor race, who should never have the authority that a white man has. Therefore, Kwasis success in business is inhibited systematically. Instead of being his own boss, he has to work as a secretary for his former class mate, who humiliates him (i.e. Kwasi has to take his meals with the servants), his letters to the government remain unanswered and when he finally receives the land he was promised to get to grow coffee, it is hardly usable. When he asks his workers why they wouldn't give their best for him as they do for his neighbor, they answer 'Well, that's easy; the neighbor is white'. And like that, Kwasi has to spent 50 years of his life in a country that is not his own, among people who don't accept him and among whom he is just an outcast. The story in all is poignant and shows a deeply rooted racism in the Dutch colonial time. Arthur Japin did a very important job by writing this novel. Thanks to the book, the forgotten story of Kwasi and Kwame became a part of the collective Dutch memory. He even managed that the head of Badu Bonsu II, a Ghanaian prince was executed and decapitated by the Dutch and then shipped to the Netherlands, was returned to Ghana in 2009 - 172 years after the execution. Japin needed ten years of research for the book, but with great success. Kwasi finally is a part of the Netherlands now.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Hinke

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The Two Hearts of Kwasi Boachi (De zwarte met het witte hart) is the debut novel of Dutch author Arthur Japin. Ten years of research in archives, museums and various countries, preceded the publication of this book and it was translated into 13 languages. It is now considered as a classic in the Dutch modern literature. I thought it is beautifully translated into English (by Ina Rilke). It is the story of the two Ashanti princes (Kwame and Kwasi) who, in 1837, were shipped to Holland for a weste The Two Hearts of Kwasi Boachi (De zwarte met het witte hart) is the debut novel of Dutch author Arthur Japin. Ten years of research in archives, museums and various countries, preceded the publication of this book and it was translated into 13 languages. It is now considered as a classic in the Dutch modern literature. I thought it is beautifully translated into English (by Ina Rilke). It is the story of the two Ashanti princes (Kwame and Kwasi) who, in 1837, were shipped to Holland for a western education as part of a business transaction. The boys were10 years old, not familiar with written language (their tribe relied on oral traditions) and had never even seen the sea, let alone another country. In Holland, most people had never ever seen a person with a black skin and the boys are regularly on display in the high society circles they find themselves in, being in the care of the Dutch royal family. However, they master the language and their formal education with an amazing ease and excel in the sciences as well as in the arts. Their skills are admired and appreciated, but the boys are never accepted as equal peers by their classmates or later by their employers. Kwame is sensitive to this rejection and holds on to his African roots, only to discover upon his return, that in Africa he is now as much a stranger as the Dutch are. Kwasi has no desire to go back to his roots and even rejects the culture of his home country as violent and barbaric. At the end of his life, after having a dead-end carrier in the Dutch West Indies, he painfully discovers proof of being rejected as a valuable member of society by the Dutch government, based on racist motives. For a book so highly praised, I was a little bit disappointed. The 'couleur locale' was not always convincing to me. What was it really like in early 19th century Ghana, or in Holland, Weimar and Indonesia where the other parts in the book take place... The same goes for the characters, the transition of the boys to Holland seems a bit too easy to be credible. The best part I thought, was the part where Kwame has returned to Africa and writes his cousin letters which show his growing despair. I found the transition from there to Kwasi and his exploration into his past, a bit disjointed and the complot against him, almost a sort of an afterthought. That said, it is eloquently written, interesting in its historic facts and imaginative in its fiction, and definitely a book worth reading.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Louisa

    The Two Hearts of Kwasi Boachi (De zwarte met het witte hart, 1997) is not the kind of book to just read, rate and be done with. This is a story that, like Conrad's Heart of Darkness, grabs, haunts and won't let go. In 1837, two little boys named Kwasi and Kwame, princes of the Ashanti tribe in Ghana, are taken away from their families and everything they have known until then, and sent to the Netherlands where they would receive a Christian education. Officially, the boys are a gift to the Dutch The Two Hearts of Kwasi Boachi (De zwarte met het witte hart, 1997) is not the kind of book to just read, rate and be done with. This is a story that, like Conrad's Heart of Darkness, grabs, haunts and won't let go. In 1837, two little boys named Kwasi and Kwame, princes of the Ashanti tribe in Ghana, are taken away from their families and everything they have known until then, and sent to the Netherlands where they would receive a Christian education. Officially, the boys are a gift to the Dutch King Willem, a pledge of friendship between the two countries. In reality however, they are a guarantee for the smooth continuation of the 'recruitment' of Ghanese young men who were being shipped to Indonesia to work in the Dutch army. Slavery was officially abolished under the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 (though still legal in Dutch colonies until 1873), and so the 'recruits' were 'given' an advance with which they could buy themselves free from their African owners. In return for this 'favour', they were obliged to work for the Dutch army in order to pay off the debt of this advance. The two little princes - who were only ten years old when they left Ghana - are caught up in this political web. They have only each other, their memories and fragments of a story their mothers had told them to bind them to their past - the ancient tale of the spider Anansi which they are repeating to each other during cold, dark nights in the Netherlands: Children of Anansi are we and the whole world is our web Love, lust or fate brings us to the farthest points Wherever we go in that web of the world There are threads to hold on to And threads to let go. While Kwame is unable to adapt to his new environment and eventually commits suicide, Kwasi attempts to build up a new life in Indonesia. This is their true story as reimagined by Arthur Japin, assuming the voice of Kwasi as he ponders over his notebooks and letters as an old man. Well researched and beautifully written, this is a story I won't forget.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Rogier

    This is a fascinating book, a historical novel, concerning the time just after the abolition of the slave trade, when the Ashanti could not believe their eyes that they could no longer sell slaves to the whites, and consequently did not know how to adapt their war economy either, and in fact would often just kill the males, because they tended to be a potential problem, while women and children were more easily controlled and assimilated. The Dutch moved into this situation, and with more than a This is a fascinating book, a historical novel, concerning the time just after the abolition of the slave trade, when the Ashanti could not believe their eyes that they could no longer sell slaves to the whites, and consequently did not know how to adapt their war economy either, and in fact would often just kill the males, because they tended to be a potential problem, while women and children were more easily controlled and assimilated. The Dutch moved into this situation, and with more than a little sophistry, argued that they could freely contract with these unwanted slaves, by opening a conscription office and offer contracts for service in the Dutch colonial army in Indonesia, where these soldiers were given the name of Blanda Itam, Black Hollanders. In short, the choice was then between walking hundreds of miles back home, or sign on for 10 or 20 years of army service, for which they contracted "freely." Just a few thousand went, but they had a cultural influence beyond their mere numbers, by establishing a return trade, that among other things resulted in a creative blending of Indonesian Batik and West African block prints, into that unique style of fabrics, which today is recognized world-wide as West African. In the end the Dutch played a role in that trade as well, and while this is described with fictitious names in the book, my own family were in fact instrumental in that trade, and the company still exists, which probably explains my fascination with this piece of history. However the book is also quite remarkable as an exploration of the human condition, and of race relations in particular, as well as the theme of alienation, for Quasi Boachi, the protagonist of the book, is a son of the Asantahene, and is educated in Holland as a mining engineer, but winds up as an outsider in the Dutch colonial establishment in Indonesia. The book is historically based, and relied on interviews with family members. It is a remarkable achievement.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Gordon

    Taken as a novel, this is a good story but not quite a great one. It is rich in telling incidents, covers a wide range of emotional ground and despite repeatedly jumping back and forth in time holds together well. Only a handful of characters are well developed, but those few are larger than life. Taken as recreated history, The Two Hearts of Kwasi Boachi is heartbreakingly poignant. On the one hand, I can't help thinking that an African writer might have brought out threads that Japin likely mis Taken as a novel, this is a good story but not quite a great one. It is rich in telling incidents, covers a wide range of emotional ground and despite repeatedly jumping back and forth in time holds together well. Only a handful of characters are well developed, but those few are larger than life. Taken as recreated history, The Two Hearts of Kwasi Boachi is heartbreakingly poignant. On the one hand, I can't help thinking that an African writer might have brought out threads that Japin likely missed. On the other hand, such a writer would probably have missed many things hidden in Boachi's "other heart". On one level this is a book about racial prejudice, but it is also more broadly a book about anyone who has been caught between two worlds. That is enough to pull the rating up to 4 stars. Well done.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Geertje

    3.5 stars

  15. 5 out of 5

    Saskia Tralala

    As a historian and a fiction lover, this was the perfect combination. The story was well crafted and a lot of love went into Japin's search.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Carolee Weber

    I really enjoyed this book. I learned about Ashante culture as well as The history of Holland. I would have liked to know how much of the book was true and what was the authors creation.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Veronica

    FAVE

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sandy

    Starts out great by didn't hold my interest until the end. I felt it should have had a few maps and more backround information on the politics of Dutch colonies.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Nikki

    Memoir. Superb Screenplay. Make it a movie. Unfolds just as memories do when we are on our deathbed. Loved it. Thank you. Great job.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl Brown

    Yes good a bit over involved but good.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sandy

    Based on historical facts, you will find it disturbing to discover that the great Dutch colonizers could be capable of such a thing.

  22. 5 out of 5

    9987

    I've heard it's brilliant, and it probably is, but I couldn't seem to appreciate it.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Valerie

    Once again, the "staff picks" of the Multnomah County Library has led me to a delicious read. I was so eager for the story, that I had to remind myself to savor the language and descriptions.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    Very good book about the ignorance of men about other cultures.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Patries Wichers

    True story of an Ashanti prince in the 19th century who studied in Holland and ended up in Indonesia. Dutch moral attitudes towards freedom and slavery very subtle described.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Núria

    It's a good book to understand some of Dutch history and colonialism. Quite touching and full of emotions.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Conrad

    The lives of Kwasi and Kwame have been brought to life through Arthur Japin's combined dedication to facts as well ashis vivid imagination. Arthur Japin really stands out for his writing, opting for long, complex, even poetic sentencing. In the case of this story his writing fits the context, adding more believablity to the story. In short: a beautiful, touching and inspiring story that, even though it is easy to follow, isn't always an easy read.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Purse

    The extraordinary story of two African princes 'traded' for colonial favours in the 1800s. Highlights the effects of cultural displacement, prejudice, and the loneliness experienced by those who fit nowhere in society. Based on obvious painstaking research that Arthur Japin weaves into a insightful fictional account of the experiences and emotions of the two princes.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Paulo Santos

    This is a good book, about the core issues of colonialism and racism exposed through an elegant and pleasant narrative, which emphasises its strength. A nice read and a good rendering of the times, as far as I can judge, maybe a little too corny regarding some of the characters, like princess Sophie, Anna Pavlovna and the good teacher's wife. But still a good book.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sanne

    The novel is about the extraordinary lifestory of Kwasi and Kwame, Ashanti princes turned hostages to the Dutch. I've given 3 stars for the entertainment of a historical novel on an unusual topic, but I expected something different when I started reading. The story is slow. I've got nothing against slow writing, stories which linger on descriptions of surroundings, nature - or stories which explore a protagonist's thought landscape. The problem is, this novel doesn't have enough depth to either o The novel is about the extraordinary lifestory of Kwasi and Kwame, Ashanti princes turned hostages to the Dutch. I've given 3 stars for the entertainment of a historical novel on an unusual topic, but I expected something different when I started reading. The story is slow. I've got nothing against slow writing, stories which linger on descriptions of surroundings, nature - or stories which explore a protagonist's thought landscape. The problem is, this novel doesn't have enough depth to either of these things: the writing is adequate, at times good. But I wouldn't read this novel just for the beautiful descriptions or sentences. What remains is the ideas this novel has to offer (and yes I do think it does have that pretention - if I'm to go by that dissonant self-congratulatory afterword in my copy, the author seems to think his novel delivered in this respect) : a perspective on race, racism and colonialisation, and the effects it had on Kwasi and Kwame. And that is where it falls short. The thoughts on race, colonialism or the peculiar and tragic situation of Kwasi and Kwame - while off to a good start in the beginning - remain superficial throughout the novel. The initial reactions of Kwasi and Kwame to their situation is taken to the logical conclusion, but without adding much depth to their inner journeys. There is no development, no further building upon and deepening of the ideas put forward. Instead, the same points are made over and over again on already proffered ideas. For example, (view spoiler)[the fact that Kwasi is deliberately held back by the Dutch government due to his skin color is hardly a surprise at the end of the novel. It's not like they didn't do that before. Yet the build-up suggest some sort of reveal, or at least a more profound or deeper insight in this matter. It gives none (hide spoiler)] . Disappointing. Thus, this novel doesn't offer wildly interesting or insightful perspectives on colonialism and racism, nor a very insightful imagination of the effect of this on (the inner journeys of) these two historical figures. What remains is a rather slow, if decently told historical novel. And just wasn't what I was expecting when I open the book on page 1.

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