God of Hunger HTML version

(The following passage is quoted directly from a reader’s report)
„God of Hunger is a fascinating and imaginative novel which take us to
different settings and allows the reader to view the story through the eyes of
different sets of characters, seeing the unfolding history of the end of colonial
Africa from the points of view of the Greek and Polish communities as well as
other expatriates, in a period when German rule had given way to British,
which in turn was about to be replaced by native independence. The struggle of
the non-Africans to find a role for themselves and continue the colonial system
by subtler means seems to be the message of the novel, and their struggle a
microcosm of twentieth-century world history.
The book tells the tragic life story of Theo Kokopoulos. Theo is the son of
Kostas Kokopoulos, an ambitious expatriate Greek who has lived in
Tanganyika since the 1920’s, having been part of the great migration that
followed the end of the First World War. We first meet „KK’, as he is known,
on the verge of independence, as he angles for position in the new government,
hoping to nudge it towards a Soviet-style Socialist utopia. The narrative follows
his son, Theo, through his upbringing, in which he finds himself torn between
his power-hungry, anti-Semitic father and Misha, a survivor of the Holocaust.
In a sense Theo seems to represent the vulnerability of the post-war world, torn
between two conflicting directions. In the end, neither side gains full control, as
he contracts cancer; despite moving to London for specialized treatment, Theo
In this opening part we are treated to a bravura display of historiography, as the
events of the main narrative are woven into the world events of the twentieth
century: the demise of Austria-Hungary and the Ottomans, the Greco-Turkish
conflict, the rise and fall of British Southern Africa, the emergence of apartheid
and the imprisonment of Mandela. The breadth of reference is striking- even
Blackadder Goes Forth is quoted at length.
The focus shifts away from the Greeks, simultaneously dividing between Polish
expatriates and the Tanganyikan natives moving for independence. It becomes
clear fairly quickly that the author is just as interested in the Poles as in the
Greeks, and although he seems to have shot many of his European historical
bolts in the first part, he has plenty left. He weaves a compelling tale about a
family of Polish émigrés. The lives of Marisha’s lovers mirror Theo’s in some
ways; they have a passionate devotion to hunting game, as well as men.
The symbolism maintains its intensity when we return to „KK’. In a strange,
idiosyncratic and ambiguous manner, his death and the bizarre scenes in which