Whistlestop Tales by Krish and Miriam Kandiah
An entertaining, creative retelling of 10 Bible stories that nevertheless does justice to the biblical material
Whistlestop Tales - Around the World in 10 Bible Stories
by Krish and Miriam Kandiah
Hodder and Stoughton
Reviewed by Pieter J. Lalleman
I am not a member of the target audience of this book, so others might be more competent to judge, but I think this is a great book. Miriam and Krish Kandiah are retelling ten Bible stories and events from the perspective of one of the main characters. In each story a ‘foreigner’ is central: Abraham is styled as an Iraqi, Ruth as a woman from Jordan, etc. Five stories are based on the Old Testament and five on the New.
The characters in the stories speak in a mixture of biblical language and modern idiom, which has a funny effect. Likewise, elements of modern culture are projected back into the biblical stories. The result is very entertaining, a real page turner. I suppose that some of the double entendres will be lost on the younger readers or listeners, but they will make the adults smile or even laugh out loud.
The modern illustrations and the varied fonts used in printing help to heighten the book’s effect. Each story begins with a brief introduction to the modern country from which the central character originated. In a playful way the book helps to put to rest the false impression that the Bible is a white man’s book and Christianity a white man’s religion. Four of the ten main characters are women.
What I can judge as a biblical scholar is that the Kandiahs do justice to the biblical material. Of course their interpretations fill in many details with great artistic liberty, but the message of Scripture is not thwarted, on the contrary. I warmly commend this book, for example as a Christmas present. The recipients do not have to be Christians or have prior knowledge of the Bible. You might even present it to a not-too-strict Muslim child.
The Revd Dr Pieter J. Lalleman is the minister of Knaphill Baptist Church