Title: Chasing Safiya
Published by: Bayeux Arts
Release Date: 1999
Chasing Safiya is a millennial quest novel with a supernatural dimension. The story opens in San Francisco, where journalist Bernie Lanigan survives a car accident, a Near Death Experience, and a visitation from his dead wife, Behroze. She tells him that to revive their young daughter, who lies in a coma as a result of the accident, Bernie must embark on a bizarre around-the-world adventure, a “metaphysical scavenger hunt” to gather fire-worthy souvenirs from sixteen scattered cities -- and then purify one of these mementoes in a sacred fire guarded by a mighty Shaman.
Sailing out of New York on a freighter, the reluctant Bernie meets Safyia Naidoo, an award-winning Canadian novelist whose given name means wisdom or clear mindedness, and her traveling companion, Taggart Oates, a middle-aged English author famous for his controversial occult thrillers. These two are also seeking the golden flame. With them, Bernie forms an uneasy alliance – one troubled by his increasingly complex relationship with Safyia.
While gathering the requisite souvenirs in Spain, Italy, Greece, Syria, Sri Lanka, India, and Tanzania Bernie gets caught up in the timeless struggle between good and evil. He battles would be death-dealers known as the Chinvat and contends with Zoroastrianism, synchronicity, Friedrich Nietzsche, existentialism, Carl Jung, high-voltage sex, Taoism, archetypal experience, western shamanism, astral projection, Buddhism, debilitating jealousy, psychic healing, and sundry Swahili proverbs only to be sorely tested at the Bridge of Judgment.
In Chasing Safiya, magic realism meets contemporary urban fantasy. Author Ken McGoogan adds a postcolonial sensibility, a neo-Beatific joi de vivre and a wry sense of humor to create a wacky picaresque which proves that clear-mindedness rules, great sex transmogrifies, and magic is alive.
Most notable review:
“It's fresh, engaging, full of emotion and intelligence, highly entertaining . . . . Chasing Safiya is also sui generis, which in days of yore always was — and still should be — a damn good thing.”