This book did a lot to create a very realistic picture of grief. But it also teaches two more things, 1. it is essential to go out there and be with tThis book did a lot to create a very realistic picture of grief. But it also teaches two more things, 1. it is essential to go out there and be with the person(s) you love and 2. try and understand that experience that you share with them, and everything else, for which you can learn from the readily available body of literature. Her piercing detail is testament to this kind of interest in knowledge and information, which Didion equates to being in able to attain 'control.'
The memoir is written in the year after John, her husband dies, a particularly trying time for the author because the daughter is in ICU. Anyone will find it not only accessible but also easy to relate to, if they ever experienced grief, even as it stimulates their minds to engage actively with knowledge. ...more
Pretty fine short stories; with lots of lovemaking and, some curse words. Will engage and challenge the traditional understanding of expressions aboutPretty fine short stories; with lots of lovemaking and, some curse words. Will engage and challenge the traditional understanding of expressions about sex and porn, and the African writers handling of this (taboo)subject.
Mine in it is among the more modest, I think....more
The first edition of Jalada Africa is a collection of 12 short stories written by young writers of amazing promise. These young writers are drawn fromThe first edition of Jalada Africa is a collection of 12 short stories written by young writers of amazing promise. These young writers are drawn from across Africa and write stories loosely based on the theme of insanity.
I am one of these young writers; contributing my story titled Visiting Angel Gabriel.
Some stories are downright funny, like Tuelo Gabonewe's Overpopulation Dynamics. While other's like Hagia Sophia by Wambui Wairua and Death at the End of Bougainvillea by Jacque Ndinda will move you to tears.
But for those interested in the poetic, Sketch of a bald woman in the semi-nude by Clifton Gachagua will certainly appeal to your deepest desires.
In each of these short stories, from the philosophical to the deceptively simple, you will find something to identify with, to be entertained and to be intellectually challenged.
Jalada Africa is a group of young writers that were brought together last year by Granta magazine and Kwani Trust for a workshop that was hosted by the British council. Since then we have deliberated, written, edited, and finally, published this incredible anthology. We will publish an anthology every quarter from now on.
I welcome you to read the short stories that are all available online at jalada.org. ...more
I've staid for well over a week wondering how I would review this book. Maybe I should start by saying that I thought the movie was great. And it wasI've staid for well over a week wondering how I would review this book. Maybe I should start by saying that I thought the movie was great. And it was some kind of mistake to go straight to the book immediately after watching it. It sort of became a spoiler.
My prior knowledge of the story did not affect my liking of the book. After all it contained so much more than the movie. And if anything the beauty of the prose immediately took me in, despite the indulgent and self-righteous, even though lovable narrator (death). This is a book full of words, and each of them has been done so well you can't help but love it.
Other than the beauty of words, the most lovable aspect of this book is its characters. I remember watching the movie and thinking what an amazing choice of characters. And now in the book, observed with all the details, made them even more lovable.
I won't go into the historical context of the book. Hitler and the years of Nazi have been long spoken of. And Markus Zusak does even better to concentrate on something else more. The life and the struggle of these characters even within such a context. His interest is in the humanity, or lack of, in the world that he conceives.
Leisel, the main character, is a young girl who comes off the page as one brimming with life. Imperfect, yes, but fully realized. She engages the reader from the moment that she arrives in Himmel street bearing a stolen Grave Digger's book to the moment that she stands over it when it is reduced to a pile of rubble.
And so are the characters of Max, Rudy, Papa and Rosa, people you emerge from the book feeling a kind of familiarity with. As though you have known them, shared in their fears, hopes and pains, for a long, long time.
It is a huge book defined by incredibly beautiful story telling, and being so wonderfully readable, it makes it possible to devour large portions of it in a sitting.
I read it everywhere, in bed, on the bus, in the bathroom (seated), on the balcony, in the kitchen, and it just took hold of me. And its staid with me long after....more
Clearly not my kind of book. I read this because I have heard so much about C.S. Lewis and I expected that I would be profoundly moved. I wasn't.
ThisClearly not my kind of book. I read this because I have heard so much about C.S. Lewis and I expected that I would be profoundly moved. I wasn't.
This is a collection of letters and poems supposedly written as a correspondence between C.S. Lewis and the author's parents. And towards the end, between the author and his his godfather, C.S. Lewis. Though some letters, and a good number of the poems, were fun to read, a majority of the rest were just flat.
Maybe I came to this with a certain level of expectation. To read something of the kind like Rilke's letters to a young poet. My mistake. But the image and impression of C.S. Lewis as one of the greatest (christian) writers remains untainted. ...more
Nidifa Mohamed published her first book Black Mamba Boy in 2009. She took the material for it from her father’s account of his real life to craft thisNidifa Mohamed published her first book Black Mamba Boy in 2009. She took the material for it from her father’s account of his real life to craft this phenomenal book, which, unlike her flawless beauty, is made more achingly beautiful by its mesh of strength and unapologetic flaws. I met Nadifa at a writer’s workshop in the middle of last year, and the wisdom, passion and grace with which she spoke seems to be naturally instilled into her writing.
The book is about a journey. Not about a destination. Though Jama is convinced there is a destination. He dreams of meeting his father. Just like we all are in life, breathlessly working towards attaining our goals. In the end Jama realizes one thing; “not to observe the hustle and bustle of life but to BE IT.”
Jama sets out to seek his father whom he believes will make his life a lot better. He has grown tired and dissatisfied with his life on the street as a small Somali scavenger. And when his mother dies, he decides to move. An emotion and a decision beautifully captured by the writer when she writes:
“Life is just this, Jama thought, a long journey, with light and darkness falling over you, companions all around, on their own journeys. Each person sitting passively or impatiently, wondering whether the tracks of their fate will take them on their clattering iron horse to their destination or will sweep them away in an invisible path to another world.”
And so she sums up what each of us has felt at some point. That desire to move, to seek to complete ourselves somehow by finding an object of desire to which we might move towards. Often times this is an object that is never there, but it causes us to engage in the journey nonetheless.
Jama’s journey is replete with trials and harsh moments, for which the writer does not shy away from in giving scintillating detail. At barely ten years old the boy is left to cater for himself, and when he begins his journey, one can only admire his spirit and courage. I looked up the map and traced my imagination from Yemen to Djibouti, Eritrea, Sudan, Egypt, Palestine, Marseille, Hamburg and finally Wales. My mind was spinning. I don’t remember walking a distance more than a few kilometers in my life, and those of my friends who have been privileged to live in a country with a hitchhiking tradition, you will agree that this a great distance indeed. One with no highways but the scorching desert sands for your path. A little unapologetic flaw, I think, for which Mohammed allows Jama to transition rather too fast from place to place. Never truly settling. Though in fiction all is allowed, the very feeling that it is fictitious should perhaps not be a part of the reader’s experience.
But Jama’s spirit is not destroyed by the harsh journey, or the strange people that he meets along the way. One must also remember that this novel is set in the 30s and 40s. Just a few decades shy of the independence movement and at the height of colonialism, and equally, the onset of the World War II, which started in Europe. Mohamed puts this in context beautifully. Not only does one Italian official imprison Jama in a chicken pen, but he also renames him for his own pleasure. The cruelty mated on Africans by the colonialists is great; and the reader with an aversion to human indignity will probably skip this section of the book. In the writer’s words the helplessness of Jama and his fellow Africans is clearly stated:
“It is hard to avenge yourself on someone you fear, when everything about them, their height, power, possessions, confidence, imposes a sense of your own inferiority.”
This is a straight-forward novel that is enjoyable both because of its beautiful, honest language and the beautiful scenes that come alive and stay with you long after you have read them. One may have a problem with the range of movement, the many places Jama visits and the many characters that he meets and leaves, but that is the nature of life. There really isn't an absolute need for a direct dramatic trajectory in life is there; we have the ups and downs that make it worth living. Even if, like Jama, we lack a map or have no single penny in our pockets...more
The collection of nine stories by A. Igoni Barrett is a thought provoking read that gives a good start to a reading year. Most of these stories, excepThe collection of nine stories by A. Igoni Barrett is a thought provoking read that gives a good start to a reading year. Most of these stories, except perhaps for the last one, are set in Nigeria. It is this setting that provides one of the greatest strengths for the collection. Nigeria is brought alive in these short stories, and for anyone that has remotely interacted with a Nigerian, they will see how truthfully they have been represented by Mr. Barrett.
Each of the short stories captures the reader’s attention, some better than others, but definitely makes one feel they have spent their time doing something worthy. By making them very visual, and largely uncomplicated in plot, Mr. Barrett allows the reader to easily access his stories. And the readers’ feelings and emotions sometimes become one with those of the characters as they search for love, understanding, and a place to belong.
In Nigeria, there are many ways that this can be done, which makes the nation quite peculiar. One needs to read Dream Chaser to see this. A young man makes a world of himself in a cyber café, preying upon the love and attention of white people in cyberspace.
Another young man, in the story The Shape of a Full Circle, watches the slow degradation of his alcoholic mother, and their landlord who will be soothed from kicking the family out by taking advantage of the poor woman.
The range of issues covered in all these short stories is wide enough to paint a kind of picture of Nigeria and the manner in which life is approached there. Though it might be a bit different with other African countries and cities, like Nairobi where I live, some realities are very much similar. Talk of dishonest and blood sucking Pentecostal preachers, as has been deeply and beautifully captured in Godspeed and Perpetua.
But for a laugh out loud moment, which Mr. Barret surely pulls off beautifully, one need only read My Smelling Mouth Problem. I first read this story in the 6th edition of Kwani?, a few years ago and I loved it very much. Now it felt fresh and full of life when I reread it, and would not hesitate to revisit it again in the future.
My problem with this collection of stories is with the story about Nairobi, which is where I live. It seems a prejudiced outsider’s view of the happenings, sort of cleverly aligned to make the seedier streets more ruthless than they are.
Igoni Barret is perhaps one of the most exciting young African writers that I have read in long time. His stories are unpretentious and they capture the life as is in the African continent. He has also largely been based here in the continent, unlike most other young writers of African descent that are based abroad. He is a writer that will definitely stay, and I will enjoy reading for as long as I find anything he writes....more