Our selection to kick off the year is Petina Gappah’s award winning novel, The Book of Memory.
Book of the Month
Published by The Mantle in 2014, Gambit: Newer African Writing is a collection of short stories by emerging contemporary African writers. In addition to the stories, the anthology includes a number of author interviews that offer an in-depth insight into the authors’ personalities and experiences, concerns, hopes and dreams as they weave a path into their writing careers.
Told in the first-person, The Bonds of War is a compelling, vivid and original story that will tag at many readers’s emotions. The characters, especially JB, Marcel and Ignat are unforgettable. Wambalye Weikama has done his homework and his talent as a storyteller clearly comes through int The Bonds of War. He masterfully weaves in historical details about the Rwandan genocide and the civil war it sparked in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
A 30-year old Moroccan Arab, Nabil Amrani, gets entangled in an adulterous relationship with his pregnant wife’s nurse, Rachida, and this results in pregnancy. To save the honor of her family, Nabil’s mother sacks the nurse. Nabil gives her some money to go get an abortion. All this is kept a secret from Malika, Nabil’s legitimate wife.
Malika gives birth to a girl, Amal. Initially the gender issue does not matter to Nabil, but later on when the subject of inheritance surfaces, it becomes an issue and Nabil regrets not having a son. When fired, Rachida relocates to Casablanca, keeps the pregnancy and five months after Amal is born, she gives birth to a son, Youssef. Nobody, not even Nabil, is aware of this.
Malla Nunn’s Silent Valley (published in 2014 by Macmillan) is a book about the murder of a beautiful nubile young thing called Amahle, the daughter of a local chief. She was about to be married off when she was found killed and her father grieves, not so much for the dead girl but the loss of the herd of cattle she was going to fetch in dowry. Amahle’s death means the chief can no longer take another wife, his sixth.
The second murder adds to the suspense and helps the plot. The twist and turns that lead to the identity of the killer – and the reasons for the dastardly act – compensate for the barrenness of Nunn’s research.
The story of Kintu begins in 2004, in Bwaise a slum in Kampala city prone to flooding in the rainy season. Kintu Kamu has just been murdered, mistakenly called a thief because of the unexplained appearance of fancy gadgets in his shack. Three months later, the people involved in his murder are all found dead, strewn all over the streets of Bwaise.
Growing up in a traditional and male-chauvinistic society is no easy feat. In fact one can say that being born a woman then (and maybe now in some societies) was unfortunate as it meant having no privileges and no say whatsoever in decision making. A woman’s destiny was always decided upon by culture and fate. That’s the gist behind Amadi’s new book, Ada.
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.
Originally submitted for the Africa Book Club Short Reads competition, The Golden Baobab Tree (by Nkiacha Atemnkeng) is a story that blends age-old African storytelling traditions with a modern twist. Set in the village of Letia, the story centers around the baobab tree, which is where the villagers come to meet with their chief and children gather to listen to storytellers. On this day, the great Uncle Jimi Solanke the storyteller visits Letia at the invitation of the chief.
This is a work of fiction, the last volume of a trilogy that began with Links and Knots. If it is foretold that all good things come to an end, here’s proof.
But from the pen of Nuruddin Farah, a Somali national, who is now resident in Cape Town, it reads like a true life account of the scourge of piracy that currently plagues the coastline of his motherland. It would be difficult to convince those who watch it – should a movie about this book be made – that the reel version is not a documentary.