KABU KABU by Nnedi Okorafor

Book Quote:

“Lance the Brave stood on the edge of the cliff panicking, his long blond hair blowing in the breeze. Behind him, they were coming fast through the lush grassy field. All Lance could do was stare, his cheeks flushed. Once upon him, they would suck the life from his soul, like lions sucking meat from the bones of a fresh kill. He held his long sword high. Its silver handle was encrusted with heavy blue jewels and it felt so right in his hand.”

Book Review:

Review by Friederike Knabe  (MAR 23, 2014)

Nnedi Okorafor’s story collection Kabu Kabu, published in 2013, provides the reader with a fascinating glimpse into the author’s rich imagination, vibrant language and captivating scenarios. Created at different stages in her extensive writing career, Okorafor treats us to a range of intriguing characters and their adventures, skilfully (and successfully) combining elements of speculative fiction and fantasy with African folklore and magical realism, and yes, indeed, political and social present day issues. Many of her stories have been nominated, shortlisted and/or have won literary recognition and awards as have her novels.

Born in the US of Nigerian parents, Nnedi Okorafor developed strong ties to her parents’ home country since her childhood. Not surprisingly, her stories here are set in Nigeria – the real and the imagined society. In fact, Okorafor is a convincing advocate for African science fiction category of storytelling. It opens, among others, new avenues for creating future realities.

Admittedly, I am not usually a great fan of speculative fiction, yet, Okorafor has captured my attention and imagination, from the first story to the last – all twenty one of them. I particular enjoyed the character of Arro-yo, the “windseeker”, who appears in several somewhat linked stories. Arro-yo is an outcast in her community because she can capture the wind and fly. Okorafor expands with her stories on African folklore that singled out girls born with “locked hair” and who had special powers. They could bring misery and misfortune to their home and were therefore chased away. Arro-yo’s adventures in Okorafor’s stories are nonetheless anchored very much in reality, whether she is caught up in civil unrest or fears for her life for other reasons.

The title story, Kabu Kabu – the name for an unlicensed taxi – sets the reader up for a roller coaster of a ride. The protagonist, a young woman living in Chicago, needs to catch a plane to return to Nigeria for a wedding… a hilarious escapade and a great opening story for the adventures that follow in Africa… humorous at times, serious at others, yet always engaging and thought provoking. It would take too long to introduce other stories… just read them all. Whoopi Goldberg provides a motivating introduction to the book

AMAZON READER RATING: stars-5-0 from 5 readers
PUBLISHER: Prime Books (October 2, 2013)
REVIEWER: Friederike Knabe


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March 23, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: Africa, Scifi, Short Stories, Speculative (Beyond Reality)

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