The Roots of Heaven  – ★★★★1/2
Through Romain Gary’s dense narrative and second-hand accounts, we can still piece together a powerful story about the resilience of human spirit and the power of an unshakeable belief.
The Roots of Heaven, winner of the prestigious Prix Goncourt, is set deep in the wilderness of Africa just after the WWII when the complex geopolitical situation meant the world on the brink of explosion from the collusion of different interests, values and opinions. In this world, amidst all the criticisms levelled at colonialism, cries for African independence and still fresh horrors of the Nazi regime, there emerges a candle of “hope” in the form of one idealistic Frenchman named Morel, whose passion for the protection of elephants soon reaches mythical proportions in the region around Chad.
The hero soon gathers around the most unlikely champions to ban the slaughter of elephants, including Minna, a woman who suffered much during the Fall of Berlin, and Forsythe, an American who was dishonourably discharged from the army. Morel, equipped only with the belief that his cause will attract public sympathy, faces a lot of adversaries, such as reality itself, as well as numerous people who hunt elephants for business, pleasure and trophies. However, because of our protagonist’s parade of eccentricities and naïve outlooks, he is soon converted into a symbol of dignity and liberation, even if his enemies are already closing in on his noble campaign and it is far from certain what will be the real consequences of his increasingly drastic actions.Continue reading “Review: The Roots of Heaven by Romain Gary”