The Names of Things: A Novel

The Names of Things: A Novel

by John Colman Wood

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Overview

"…a thoughtful, patient, and ultimately rewarding book…"
—Peter Orner, author of The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo and Love and Shame and Love

"The Names of Things beautifully renders one man’s struggle to balance his life’s work with the love of his life...a profound and moving story."
—Tommy Hays, author of The Pleasure Was Mine

The anthropologist’s wife, an artist, didn’t want to follow her husband to the remote desert of northeast Africa to live with camel-herding nomads. But wanting to be with him, she endured the trip, only to fall desperately ill years later with a disease that leaves her husband with more questions than answers.

When the anthropologist discovers a deception that shatters his grief and guilt, he begins to reevaluate his love for his wife as well as his friendship with one of the nomads he studied. He returns to Africa to make sense of what happened, traveling into the far reaches of the Chalbi Desert, where he must sift through the layers of his memories and reconcile them with what he now knows.

Set in a windswept wilderness menaced by hyenas and lions, The Names of Things weaves together the stories of an anthropologist’s journey into the desert, his firsthand accounts of the nomads' death rituals, and his struggle to find the names of things for which no words exist.

Anthropologist John Colman Wood’s debut novel is an exquisite, haunting exploration of the meaning of love and the rituals of grief.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940014186711
Publisher: Ashland Creek Press
Publication date: 04/01/2012
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 861 KB

About the Author

John Colman Wood teaches at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. His field research with Gabra nomads of northern Kenya and southern Ethiopia has been funded by the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the National Geographic Society, and the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology.

His fiction has appeared in Anthropology and Humanism, and he has twice won the Ethnographic Fiction Prize of the Society for Humanistic Anthropology, once for a story extracted from The Names of Things.

He is the author of When Men Are Women: Manhood among Gabra Nomads of East Africa (University of Wisconsin Press, 1999). Before becoming an anthropologist, Wood was a journalist.

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