Gappah's novel of exploration and adventure in 19th-century Africa is the story of the loyal men and women who carried explorer and missionary Dr. Livingstone's body, his papers, and maps, 1,500 miles across the continent of Africa, so his remains could be returned home to England and his work preserved there.
Now with her searing, poignant, often hilarious Out of Darkness, Shining Light, she upends the conventions of historical fiction ... [narrator] Halima is a kind of African Wife of Bath...bossy, brassy and brilliantly realized ... Gappah's treatment of her characters' odyssey, by turns playful and tragic, is underpinned by a larger theme: the legacy of colonization ... Out of Darkness, Shining Light beautifully evokes the moral ambiguities that lurk within the human heart, revealing a talent that continues to grow from book to book.
Gappah returns them to the forefront of this amazing pilgrimage and brings both the time and the terrain into focus for her audience with humor, horror and all the wonder unique to the continent ... Halima is a smart, spirited woman. Readers will find that her sharp wit and cagey nature combine for a fascinating perspective of the funeral trek ... In Out of Darkness, Shining Light, Gappah has managed to artfully blend brilliant humor with a strong sense of place and themes surrounding the dark issues of slavery and colonization. She delivers an engrossing adventure laced with details that history books have neglected ... Gappah paints an emotionally charged image of the slaves who are unable to continue walking.
Gappah poured years of research into her novel, which is apparent in the rich detail found in its pages. Her vibrant story exposes not only Livingstone’s hypocrisy, but also the growing doubts of Halima and Jacob. She shines a light on colonial Africa and the evils of the slave trade, but in the midst of this darkness, she gives voice to those whose sacrifices were unheralded. While Livingstone's heart was buried in Africa, it was the generous hearts of his servants that helped his work survive.