Sweating miles on the elliptical, I started reading Minister Faust’s The Alchemists of Kush with my IPod pumping Xavier Naidoo’s Alles Kann Besser Werden—Everything Can Get Better. I read the whole novel that way. It is quite a visionary mix of righteous, hip hop-inflected, speculative adventure. Apocalyptic devastation is already upon us—don’t need to wait for the future to bring us that. In The Alchemists of Kush, Minister Faust weaves together the stories of two Sudanese boys, "separated by seven thousand years and connected by immortal truth." After their fathers are murdered in brutal civil war, the two boys struggle toward adulthood in exile, refugees from their own spirits. Minister Faust defines adulthood/manhood as the Brothers working through devastation and stepping up to turn us all into Gold. In a break-open-your-mind plot, his “hip hop” is power to the people rhyme, coming in the nick of time, offering a way out of no way. Old school and new school, talking in every tongue, Minister Faust writes a fight the empire/define your humanity/dance your spirit/conjure your world/ hip hop epic. All that and a laugh out loud page turner too!
I enjoyed Minister Faust’s first book, The Coyote Kings of the Space Age Bachelor-Pad. The humor in his second book, From the Notebooks of Dr. Brain, missed my funny bone. But The Alchemists of Kush makes me want to gush. In the currently small community of speculative writers of color, a scary question comes up: can we afford to say the truth about one another? In The Alchemists of Kush, Minister Faust risks telling stories that threaten the empire-builders, that encourage us all to become agents of action. Such a novel demands a truthful response. I’ve been thinking we need prayers for right now. Advertizing jingles and gangsta rhymes split our souls, jangle our spirits a thousand times a day. Minister Faust is a technician of the scared, getting the geometry, the dance of our humanity into his words. Buy The Alchemists of Kush for yourself and a friend. Read it and then give it away. Give it away a lot.
If the book hits the Kindle Top 100 on launch day--June 15, 2011, Minister Faust will donate the first $500 of sales to the South Sudan Development Foundation's efforts to ship thousands of books (including the 300 he donated) to the Dr. John Garang Memorial University in South Sudan, which currently has no library.