The Bundle of Joy and Other Stories from Africa is the first volume of stories selected from the Africa Book Reads monthly writing competition, which was launched in August 2013. Released December 2014, the anthology features 52 stories that are all either set in Africa or written by African authors.
At just under 300 pages, the anthology showcases 36 writers representing 14 African countries – from South Africa to Somalia. Most of the stories come from as-yet unpublished writers. However, their talent shines through undeniably. The work spans many wide-ranging themes, reflecting the diversity of the African continent. Many of the stories are about day-to-day life and they reflect a continent bustling with hope, opportunity and promise, in contrast to the singularly negative stereotypes that many often associate with Africa. The themes of love, family, loss, and humor are brought alive through stories about ordinary families that transcend generational, rural, urban, modern, and traditional settings.
Nicola Coady’s story, Obio, provides a hilarious account of a young man, who loses his manhood under strange circumstances. In The Bundle of Joy (by Mercy Dhliwayo), a couple’s desperate attempts to have a child finally bear fruit. But the husband’s mother has her own suspicions and will not leave the couple alone. With Christmas in the air, Lynda Adhiambo (A Kenyan Christmas) and Mivanyi Kadala (Mr. Gyang’s Rooster) provide two moving accounts of the festive season. In The Village Breadman, Mark Mgomezulu follows Manyosi as he goes about making deliveries to his customers. At first glance, Manyosi is the embodiment of humility and hard work, or so it seems until another side of his personality is revealed. Tendai Machingaidze’s Super Granny is an endearing story about a woman’s determination to pursue her dream of taking part in a beauty contest.
As one would expect, not all the stories have happy endings. Poverty and conflict are common themes. Kevin Eze’s Amy focuses on conflict in Mali and takes us to a hospital at the center of a bitter war. And in Footsteps of the Shadows, Caroline Biegon provides a moving tale about a family decimated by the unrelenting impact of a long drought.
These are just a few of the stories in an anthology that offers a bit of everything. In all, The Bundle of Joy and Other Stories from Africa, makes for an ambitious and ultimately really engaging collection of stories. The varying styles and perspectives of the authors add a powerful mix of originality to the work.
The Bundle of Joy and Other Stories from Africa: Africa Book Club Anthology Volume 1 (2014) is published by Aalvent Books. Copies are available in the Africa Book Club store, on Amazon.com (kindle and paperback) and the iBook store.