A deeply imaginative debut novel about a family in crisis, Time of the Locust “deftly brings together the fantastic and the realistic, and touches on a variety of issues, from politics, race, and murder to disability, domestic tragedy, and myth…[and] spins them with gold and possibility” (The Washington Post).
Sephiri is an autistic boy who lives in a world of his own making, where he dwells among imagined sea creatures that help him process information in the “real world” in which he is forced to live. But lately he has been having dreams of a mysterious place, and he starts creating fantastical sketches of this strange, inner world.
Brenda, Sephiri’s mother, struggles with raising her challenged child alone. Her only wish is to connect with him—a smile on his face would be a triumph. Sephiri’s father, Horus, is serving a life sentence in prison, making the days even lonelier for Brenda and Sephiri. Yet prison is still not enough to separate father and son. In the seventh year of his imprisonment and at the height of his isolation, Horus develops extraordinary mental abilities that allow him to reach his son. Memory and yearning carry him outside his body, and through the realities of their ordeals and dreamscape, Horus and Sephiri find each other—and find hope in ways never imagined.
Deftly portrayed by the remarkably talented Morowa Yejidé, this “unique and astounding debut” (New York Times bestselling author Lalita Tademy) is a harrowing, mystical, and redemptive journey toward the union of a family.
Short story writer Yejid 's debut novel, a finalist in the PEN/Bellweather Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction in 2012, presents the harrowing but beautiful story, set in 1986, of a family in crisis, each member of which is given his or her own narrative voice. Brenda Thompson can barely cope with her life's pressures. Her autistic son, Sephiri, favors a fantasy landscape inhabited by sea creatures over the real world, and her husband, Horus, is in prison for the revenge killing of the policeman who murdered his father. When Sephiri begins sketching his dreams, and draws a type of long-extinct locust, his caretakers ask Brenda if they can study him in depth. Horus, trying to survive the brutality of his prison, discovers that underneath the facility is a system of ancient tunnels, which he refers to as the catacombs. He also discovers that he has the ability to telepathically contact his son in dreams. Brenda, on the other hand, struggles to make any contact with her son. Beautiful prose conveys the sadness and fractured selves of these characters, who are both strong and fragile. The depth of pain can make for difficult reading, but the rendering of Sephiri's interior life, in particular, is arresting, and the novel is challenging and memorable.