Dagan, who has degrees in theatre and drama from Tel Aviv University, and who graduated from a dance academy in Paris, has travelled widely in the sub-Sahara. The experiences of these years are the raw material for her book. The “mask” of the title story refers on one level to the masks the narrator comes to love and, finally, collect. On another level it refers to the masks all humans wear as they interact with each other, whether or not they are from different cultures. Collision of culture is a theme in several of the stories.
The stories are at their best when the rituals take over: the Elvis puppets in Gabon; the hunt for the Tihuti story/myth, which leads to several different versions of one myth, all true; the man buying his son a bicycle, piece by piece, over the years. Dagan’s respect for Africa is inherent in each. mRb