THIS IS NOT A LOVE STORY. Written ninety years ago, this novel tells a tale of revenge. Lafala, a sailor of West African descent, falls for a Moroccan prostitute named Aslima while living in the port of Marseille. Unfortunately, Aslima runs off with all of Lafala’s money and leaves him penniless. Broken-hearted Lafala illegally stows away on a ship headed for America, and things only get worse for him. Upon being discovered by a crew member Lafala is locked in a room next to a toilet where he suffers from frostbite and ultimately has to get his legs amputated when the ship docks in New York City.
When Lafala feels he has hit rock bottom, he soon discovers he could sue the shipping company for their inhumane treatment of him. With a big settlement check in his pocket, Lafala heads back to Marseille to confront Aslima, the woman who ruined his life.
Although this book is newly released, Claude McKay started writing this book 91 years ago. First, the book was called The Jungle and the Bottoms. The manuscript was abandoned for a couple of years, while the author suffered from syphilis and other distractions. Then he moved to Morocco and took it up again, reworking the story and retitling it Savage Loving. Then he swapped for the current title after his agent deemed Savage Loving too obscene, before abandoning the novel again, seemingly for good. An 87-page draft from a collection of McKay’s work and a 172-page left to his only child; the two have been reconciled to create one of his best novels.
This fast-paced book was one I couldn’t put down. If you’re looking for a great read pick up a copy of my latest book selection “Romance in Marseille” by Claude McKay.