The most exuberant and funny of all Bellow’s novels, Henderson the Rain King remained the author’s personal favorite. Its outsized hero, Eugene Henderson, a mountain of a man, a millionaire, the father of many, remains adrift. Aggrieved, worn-out, all but defeated he longs to set things straight. Following the promptings of his unforgettable inner voice—“I want, I want, I want”—our hero finds himself in Africa.
Henderson makes his way into a mythic sun-baked interior, where among exotic tribes he finds fellow seekers, teachers and soulmates. Whether blowing up a cistern full of frogs or learning to walk without fear among the lions, soulful, zany Henderson intends to burst his “spirit’s sleep.”