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The Prophet of Zongo Street: Stories
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The Prophet of Zongo Street: Stories

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  167 ratings  ·  27 reviews
A dazzling collection of stories, The Prophet of Zongo Street takes readers to a world that seamlessly blends African folklore and myths with modernity. Set primarily on Zongo Street, a fictitious community in West Africa, the stories -- which are reminiscent of the works of Ben Okri and Amos Tutuola -- introduce us to wonderfully quirky characters and the most uproarious, ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published August 15th 2006 by Harper Paperbacks (first published 2005)
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A storyteller motif prevails--the characters enjoy gossip and are storytellers. The settings of the stories alternate—one taking place on Zongo Street in Ghana, the next describing a Ghanian immigrant in NYC.
Here are the basics of the stories:
1. A grandmother describes the mythical birth and youth of a bad child as the reason for day and night.
2. Kumi, an intelligent man, is driven mad thinking about the imperialistic effects of Christianity and Islam on the Ghanian culture (a portrait of a wou
Sidik Fofana
Oct 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
SIX WORD REVIEW: Sit on hearth with old Uwargida.
Steve Lively
Jun 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Ali creates a charismatic and vivid land for readers unfamiliar with Ghana. these tales exhibit a varied cast, but the themes presented here make this an excellent read and viable study for the current state of modern short fiction.
Jan 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I read this book while traveling through Ghana! It’s a transnational collection of stories that emerge from the author’s own position living as a Ghanaian Muslim from Kumasi who later immigrates to New York City, where he is an accomplished artist: writer and musician. These stories take place alternatively in Kumasi and New York, they deal with the rich culture of Hausa-speakers in a quarter of the bustling city of Kumasi, and race in NYC. Funny, stark, and enriching is how I describe this coll ...more
Mar 01, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: library
So this is a book of short stories, the first one I've come across on the shelf. I hope it isn't the last because I really like these. They're a breeze to read. The backbone to this entire book is that someone in the stories is probably from Ghana.

Anyway, this book is a mixed bag of goodies. Oh the whole, I enjoyed it. When the book is dealing with issues of race or colonialization or imperialism and religion, it's pretty on point. When the book touches on gender issues it's not as cohesive. Th
Carla (literary.infatuation)
Mar 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
One of the excuses for works of fiction failing to represent women accurately or portray strong female characters is that either in that period of history women were sidelined or that in such culture women have traditional gender roles which keep them backstage. I am never really convinced by those are arguments. A story is all about how you tell it, how you spin it; and there has always been powerful, encouraging women around shaping their communities. This is something that really surprised me ...more
Jun 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
I seldom read short stories collection because it is usually left me dissatisfied with open ending or mediocre level writing stories in it. However, seeing this book in a shelves of a book store intrigued me to pick and bought it. I know nothing about Ghana and reading this may not illustrate 100% the people, culture or their country, but at least, I know a little bit about them. There are some of the stories that I can't shake them off right after finishing it, there are some I forgot about it ...more
Sep 24, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: brain-candy, place
Story kinda stories, like moral-free wrap-you-up-in-em yarns, gather round let me spin something to keep you listening. Ghana and New York City, the ones in Ghana taking a much more lilting, magical realist quality than the hard and sad New York stuff: immigration, racism, navigating conflicting worlds. One story with an unfortunate portrayal of non-consensual sex: sorry Ali, but sex with someone who's passed out is not the cat's meow, it's assault, and it was kinda fucked up of you to portray i ...more
Aug 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Elizabeth by: Great African Reads
The author certainly did a fine job of capturing the spirit of the various characters in this collection of short stories- both those situated on Zongo Street as well as those set abroad. The story of the man who couldn't satisfy his wife was particularly relevant to my work in terms of helping people to feel satisfied with their primary partner as a way of avoiding the transmission of HIV through concurrent partnerships. The story in NYC, with the drugs and the rape scene was particularly troub ...more
Mar 09, 2008 rated it liked it
Ali is a master storyteller, and that's the beauty of this book. The stories set in Africa are especial poetic, but he does a good job of contrasting the warm, full world of Zongo Street with the cold and lonely reality of immigrant New York. He also does a good job raising questions about religion and what it means to be an outsider. However, there's something slightly amiss in his stories set in America -- they don't hold the reader as well as his stories set in Zongo Street do. ...more
Nov 09, 2007 rated it it was ok
Shelves: short-stories
I found this short story collection to be rather uneven. In general, the stories that were set in Ghana were more successful than those set in New York. My least favourite story was "Rachmaninov". It felt very adolescent to me - and it badly exposed Ali's discomfort with portraying a character who is more "Americanized" and also very badly handled portrayals of women. Disappointing!

The best story in this collection was "Malaam Sile" which I had read previously in the New Yorker.
May 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
Many of these stories are very good--the prophet is interesting, as are the robber and the struggling tea-shop owner. The stories are generally well told although it does seem as though some of them drag on too long. Overall, I think this collection will provide some good reading and some insight into storytelling from a region we often do not have represented in modern literature.
Jen Yttri (Lynch)
May 06, 2009 rated it liked it
A collection of short stories. I picked this up as it was the basis for a movie (I can't remember which one though! I only remember I loved it). While some of the author's insight into life in America and Ghana can be fascinating, this isn't one of the best memoir/short story collections I've read. Worth skipping through. ...more
Jul 07, 2007 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this. This is a book of short stories by a Ghanaian writer alternately set in Ghana and Brooklyn, where the writer now lives. The voice and characters are better in the stories set in Ghana. The ones in Brooklyn are disturbing yet funny.
Feb 09, 2011 rated it liked it
It's about half and half for me, but there are some real gems scattered in this collection of stories. In particular, the final two stories are wonderful. (Fair warning, there's an instance of date rape in one story about halfway through.) ...more
Aug 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely wonderful collection of short stories that take place either in Ghana or Brooklyn. There are some heartwarming stories and others that deal with life/death and the afterlife. It's a quick read and some of the stories will stay with you forever. ...more
Feb 24, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, religion
A mixed bag of short stories. Some of them, like the titular one, were fantastic reads, but others, such as "Rachmaninov," really made me struggle to keep interested. I agree with previous reviews that, overall, the Ghanian stories were a lot stronger than the New York stories. ...more
Oct 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: africa
Nice buffet of stories that stretch from Zongo Street in Ghana to immigrant's America. I was so reminded of Adiche's collection The Thing Around Your Neck, which follows the same pattern. Stories are well-told and precise. This Mohammed Naseehu Ali....I'm waiting for more!
Oct 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I can't wait for this young author to write another book! This was a joy to read. ...more
Mar 18, 2007 rated it liked it
Aside from the anti-Sarah Lawrence sentiment, this book was ok. The stories set in Ghana ring more true than those set in New York.
Jeff Gerwing
May 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
I liked how the stories were interwoven a bit.
Masked Editor
Apr 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Literary short stories that straddle the comic and the dark, New York City and Ghana.
Apr 14, 2008 rated it liked it
Available MCPL
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Dec 03, 2015
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Sofie Andersen
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Jun 02, 2009
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Apr 17, 2013
Robin Kobayashi
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Apr 17, 2017
Nov 20, 2018 added it
Shelves: africa, fiction, ghana
Awesome short stories about a fictional Zongo Street, a muslim neighborhood with lots of characters somewhere in Ghana.
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Born in Kumasi, Ghana, Ali went to the United States in 1988 to study.[1] He is a graduate of Interlochen Arts Academy and Bennington College.

His first book, a collection of short stories titled The Prophet of Zongo Street, was published in 2006 and received positive reviews. Ali has acknowledged being influenced in the writing of this book by V. S. Naipaul's Miguel Street. He has published short

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