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Tropical Fish: Tales from Entebbe

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  508 ratings  ·  73 reviews
In her fiction debut, Doreen Baingana follows a Ugandan girl as she navigates the uncertain terrain of adolescence. Set mostly in pastoral Entebbe with stops in the cities Kampala and Los Angeles, Tropical Fish depicts the reality of life for Christine Mugisha and her family after Idi Amin's dictatorship.

Three of the eight chapters are told from the point of view of Christ
Paperback, 184 pages
Published September 12th 2006 by Harlem Moon (first published January 1st 2005)
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Average rating 3.69  · 
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M. Ainomugisha
Dec 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I wish I read Doreen's book back in high school. Tropical Fish is an easy and entertaining read which encompasses beautifully told memories and a true reflection of the life of a young Ugandan girl in the lower middle class society of the country. Reading it felt like some parts of my childhood were being retold to me. Never related so much with a book. Worthy purchase. ...more
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
This is a collection of eight short stories about the lives of three sisters as girls and young women growing up in Uganda. It's not an "awareness novel" - the stories are about relationships and the characters' inner lives, not "Africa issues," though one does deal with AIDS through a very personal lens. This was the most remarkable story in the collection to me, with more intense emotions than are found in the others. Overall, the writing is adequate, but I did not find this collection particu ...more
Tayari Jones
May 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I'd read Tropical Fish before, but I had forgotten just how brilliant Doreen is! I am forcing myself to choose only two stories for my packet, but I can't begin to choose. I love me some coming of age stories and her young narrators are aces. I know I'll end up using one of the epistolary stories because writing a letter that seems like a letter, but still tells a story is a complicated maneuver-- which Doreen pulls off not once, but twice in the collection.

So, here are the stories I am thinking
Oct 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: africa, uganda
I'm so glad I've discovered this book here on GR - it didn't sound so very special, but as I have a personal interest in Uganda, I'd decided to read it, anyway, just for the cultural information - and I got so much more. Doreen Baingana is a unique voice, very deft at describing complex emotions and relationships, down-to-earth, very sincere, sometimes heart-breaking.

I hope she's going to tackle a novel or another set of connected short stories. Especially, the letter of Rosa to the lover who m
Erin Reilly-Sanders
Aug 01, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: foreign, teen, fiction
While categorized as a set of short stories, this title reads more as set than individual stories as the same characters of three sisters reappear throughout all the stories. The technique of different voices and a variety of media such as a journal and a letter helps separate the voices to an extent but in many cases it is confusing as to who is speaking, perhaps suggesting that each sister is not as separate as one would assume and is instead different possible trajectories of one generic fema ...more
Jan 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
While this book is called a set of short stories with interconnected characters, it reads best as a whole. The book tells the stories of three sisters, focusing mostly on Christine with a couple of stories from Rosa and Patti. The writing is immensely powerful and the stories are extremely compelling. In particular, the stories tracing Christine's time working in the United States (in Los Angeles and Washington, DC) before returning to Uganda tell the story of identity, race, politics, diaspora, ...more
Apr 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
Again, a book for class. I'm not usually big on vignettes which is what this novel is, but these vignettes are very much connected. They focus around three sisters growing up in a village in Uganda and their coming of age. The ideas revolving around religion, culture, education, discrimination, etc that come up throughout the vignettes are portrayed in beautiful and emotional ways. ...more
Jun 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A novel in stories of 3 sisters in Uganda. A Thank You Note ( my vote for best sotry of the book) gives the true feeling of the AIDS crisis of the 80's in Africa that I have ever read. ...more
Apr 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Few authors can capture multiple themes and weave them so effortlessly.
Kemunto ❥
Feb 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Doreen, you took me back to my craze days in high school. I think you write superbly, I loved Christine, Patti and Rosa. Oh, Rosa.
Erik Nygren
Apr 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very vibrant writing. Without getting overly political nor losing focus from the plot, it does a great job setting the environment for a post-Idi Amin Uganda, and then delivers an interesting and surprising storyline from there.

Each chapter is essentially a quick glance into a phase of life for one of the book’s characters, and by the next chapter, the book has moved on to another era or a new stage of life. So it’s not a super cohesive story, they almost read like a bunch of essays but I found
Dora Okeyo
Nov 28, 2022 rated it liked it
I find myself taken in by subtle phrases, utterances made by characters in books be in it reference to their environment or the other characters and so it was with this book.

As told from Christine's point of view, from growing up in Entebbe as a child, seeing her father lose himself to alcohol and their mother struggle to provide for them, the contrast between having and not having basic needs, of wanting more for oneself, of striving to be better than what you had and traversing continents whi
Mar 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned-books
This book is essentially a collection of sequential, linked short stories. Like most short story collections, I enjoyed some stories more than others. Taken as a whole, though, I thought the book did a very effective job of conveying the history and culture of Uganda in a very satisfying and moving way. Overall a good read.
Growing up, starving at school and finding yourself in Entebbe or LA, sex live and death. This is a collection of stories about three sisters - mostly Christine, the youngest - it seems like novels, but maybe it's chapters or something in between. I liked it, but it tilts to the side of less story, more thoughts that makes me impatient while reading it... ...more
Feb 13, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Masterpiece. I really enjoyed it. Hoped it was longer.
Joslyn Allen
Review from https://chronicbibliophilia.wordpress...

Christine Mugisha is a young girl coming of age in Uganda under the specter of Idi Amin’s terror-filled reign and the emerging horror of the AIDS epidemic. Christine and her sisters are fortunate; though they live with want, they are well-off and well-educated.

“We were at Makerere University; we were the cream of the crop. We had dodged the bullets of Amin, Obote, all the coups, the economic war, exile and return, and here we were on the road t
Joel Benjamin Benjamin
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is an interesting collection of connected short stories which manage to convey the lives of three Ugandan sisters from youth to adulthood. The stories are written in a direct style, in the distinctive voices of the three sisters. The plots range widely, from the joy and mystery of being alone in her parent's bedroom playing with her mother's jewelry, to the hunger and hardship at boarding school, to the firestorm spread of HIV/AIDS across the country, to studying in the USA, to coming home ...more
Brandon Fryman
Apr 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book was such a great read. I especially like the "A Thank You Note" and "Lost in Los Angeles" chapters. They were awe inspiring and thought provoking. This story was written about Uganda, Ugandans, and how Ugandans face certain daily practices. One of my favorite passages from the book "What better way is there to bury your dead, but not to go lustfully after life? I must scream against death just like I used to with life. I must live even harder." I just love this book, its harsh conditio ...more
Aug 31, 2013 rated it liked it
What I liked a lot: Learning about Uganda. The last two stories really made me think about sense of self and learning how to be in the world, especially when one is far from home--and what the heck does "home" mean anyway?

What I liked less: Though the stories are all about three sisters, they didn't necessarily cohere into a whole for me. Also, sometimes it felt like the stories just sort of ended, randomly, not even in that unsettled sort of end but just in a place that seemed sort of random, l
Jul 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Towards the end of this vivid, poignant, funny short story collection, there's an amazing one about AIDS, maybe the best African fiction on AIDS I've yet read except for Phaswane Mpe's Welcome To Our Hillbrow. This story is a refusal to feel ashamed of sexual pleasure in the face of nightmarish circumstances, a riposte to the politics of respectability that often get in the way of dealing with the epidemic, and it draws together the rest of the stories (even bringing some previous characters bac ...more
Jul 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, africa
I had a tough time deciding how to rate this--I wish there was a 3.5. This books tells the tale of 3 sisters growing up in post-Amin Entebbe but focuses on the youngest, Christine. It follows them through young adult-hood, including Christine's ex-pat experience in the US.

I really like Baingana's writing style and the chapter "Thank you note" is exceptional in its raw emotion. But "Tropical Fish" as a whole left me wanting more. The story was a little disjointed and it could have used more flesh
These linked short stories tell about the lives of Christine Mugisha and her family in Uganda, following the dictatorship of Idi Amin. Though the stories hint at political strife, hunger, a black market economy and the growing scourge of AIDS in Africa, they mostly focus on the attempts of Christine and her sisters to have normal girlhoods in the face of so much turmoil. We follow Christine to America, then back to Entebbe as she forms new definitions of "home." These stories are lyrical and mov ...more
Apr 27, 2008 rated it liked it
A series of short stories connected into one modern-day Uganda family's history. Really gives a flavor of modern east African life. The author so subtly sends the reader into the upheaval of an upper-class family upended by an angry alcoholic father, the post-Amin era, the protaganist's transition from Africa to America and back again. I haven't found much Tanzanian literature yet, but I was happy to read this. One perspective of many, I'm sure. ...more
Morninglight Mama
Jan 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
I so enjoyed reading these stories. The author has such an honest voice, even though these characters are from a culture and environment so different than mine, they as people were bigger than their culture or their home country. One character's experiences traveling between the US and Uganda was interesting to me as I have traveled so little in my life- this was a new perspective for me. Very enjoyable. ...more
Nov 18, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
I enjoyed this book because it portrayed typical traversties that young African women face while not compromising to write to a Western audience. From the standpoint of Wainaina, this book was well written. However, in her quest to not victimize the women from Entebbe, she includes unnecessary details.
Jan 03, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is a collection of short stories that are connected nicely to each other, but the collection can be read as a full novel, in my opinion. I found "Lost in Los Angeles" the most interesting, I think because it sort of makes you reflect on life and what society is like. All stories were interesting in some way, but there were too few intrigues for my taste (hence the low rating). ...more
Jun 13, 2007 rated it it was ok
It's about 3 girls growing up in Uganda...is set in the near present. It's okay, but really only for getting a perspective of higher-class Ugandans growing up after Amin's presence. The writing is nothing to ooh over, but does give me some sense of Ugandan life. ...more
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Doreen Baingana is a Ugandan short story writer. Her book, Tropical Fish won the 2006 Commonwealth Writers' Prize, best first book, Africa, and an AWP Short Fiction Award.

She has graduated from Makerere University with a JD, and from the University of Maryland with an MFA. While at Makerere University Baingana was an active member of FEMRITE - Uganda Women Writers Association, which she has refer

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