Topics unacceptable

Posted on: June 26th, 2012 by Wayne Fraser 4 Comments

I have always rejected the rule that there are two topics–politics and religion–that should not be discussed at a formal dinner. What about in a novel? If an author claims to have written a novel of ideas, it should offer insightful comments on politics and/or religion that intrigue and enlighten the reader. Hemingway’s Island deals with politics, particularly that of the 1950s; it’s focused on the era of the Red Scare in the USA and Communism in Cuba.

We could have (should have?) been able to handle religion as well. Cuba is ostensibly Roman Catholic, with evangelicals of all stripes claiming the conversion of multitudes. The problem is that the most vibrant and potentially dangerous belief system is Santeria that African slaves brought with them, a combination of their traditions and Christianity, with the latter at times only a keep-the-white-man happy veneer. What was Hemingway’s experience of religion? Perhaps another novel is required.

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