Fiction does not always enhance or deepen our understanding of complex realities of time and place. In his novel, The Madonna of Excelsior, set in his native South Africa, Zakes Mda has achieved this mixture admirably. Against the backdrop of political events of the pre- and post-Apartheid, he builds his narrative around the impact of one specific event and its aftermath on one small community, Excelsior. He captures the essence of life under Apartheid and the difficulties awaiting all when the regime ends.
In Blackbird, writes Olofinlua Oyindamola, the rule of opposite reigns. Maya and her husband, Omoniyi, and their ailing son represent the have-nots while Nduesoh and her philandering British husband, Edward, represent the haves. Their society has a capitalist predilection. Yet, the poor do not rest on their oars, as they do all they can to emerge as petit-bourgeois.
Award winning author Hisham Matar, a Libyan himself, is all too familiar with what’s going on in Libya – the fear and caution of people who know that their every move is being watched by government informants. His book, In the Country of Men (published in 2007) reminds us that Libyans have had to put up with this situation for nearly half a century.
Aminatta Forna’s latest book, published in January 2011 by Bloomsbury, is a moving portrayal of love and hope and the undying human spirit.
Set in Sierra Leone, a country that has just emerged from a decade of civil war, The Memory of Love revolves mainly around a few characters whose lives intertwine through the course of generations, and through whose eyes and voices the story unfolds.