by Sukey HowardJanuary, 2007
Interpreting the language of Africa
In The Mission Song, John le Carre is again the interpreter of African maladies, back in the heart of darkness with a powerful tale of love and betrayal that explores the byzantine complexities of the resource-rich Eastern Congo, sickened by decades of genocidal war, nightmarish political corruption and plagued once more by neocolonial greed in the guise of proffered stability. Le Carre interprets through an interpreter, Salvo the illegitimate son of an Irish missionary priest and a Congolese mother a gifted translator of many African languages. When he uncovers a plot for a small coup, Salvo, believing naively in the high-minded motives of his British employers, goes to the very people he shouldn't trust, then finds himself battling alone for his beloved country. David Oyelowo offers a splendid, nuanced reading, getting a range of accents from Kinshasa to the House of Lords just right.