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Eleanor, St Helen and St Katharine

Bone Talk

Candy Gourlay provides a very intriguing view of a past which not many authors choose to write about. Set roughly a hundred years ago in what is now the Philippines, Bone Talk shows us the differences between modern civilization and life in a secluded village. As in most tribes, there are traditions to uphold, in this case the ritual of a boy entering his manhood.
Samkad is desperate to become a man and receive the Cut, but when the Ancients (they are basically a council of elders) read the ‘portents’ of a dead chicken, it is discovered that Sam cannot become the man of his dreams until his brother, Kinyo, returns from the lowlands to the mountain village. Kinyo is not his brother by blood, but they are called ‘brothers’ because their mothers were soul-bonded best friends. Samkad’s father killed a sacred snake by accident, so it is he who is chosen to journey to the lowlands and retrieve Kinyo.
When Kinyo returns, he is nothing like what Sam expected. Amongst his company is Samkad’s father and Kinyo’s aunt, both of which are expected, but there is also one other who is not so welcome. Mister William, an American, is nothing like what any of the inhabitants of the village have ever seen before. To start with, his skin is white, and his clothes are of a very different style to those frequented by the men of the Philippines. He brings sweets and fudge with him, a sign that, even in 1889, Americans were manufacturing artificially sweet candies at a sickening rate. The Ancients begin to trust Mister William, particularly because of Sam’s father’s persuasion.
Not so benevolent, however, are the Americans who come after. They have burned most of the lowland villages and are now bribing the mountain folk with guns. The Americans want the villagers to bury many dead lowlanders in order to clear a path for more American troops, in exchange for them supposedly killing the villagers’ rival tribe, the Mangili . The villagers agree, but little do they know of the lies the Americans have spread. Kinyo, because the Americans have forgotten that he speaks their language, discovers the lies and rushes to tell Sam. Will the two brothers be able to save their village before it falls into ruin?

Posted on: 25th April 2019 at 08:35 am

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