Archive for the ‘Africa’ Category
A “story man” walks from village to village across bare African lands, carrying a heavy book bag over his shoulder, filled with an odd collection of English language classics that visitors gave to him when passing through the villages. The books have opened his mind, like windows into another world: “I have read their books and told their stories very many times. I understand them, have seen the places that made them, seen the lives they want to live…” Charles Davis’ new novel, STANDING AT THE CROSSROADS, set most likely in Sudan, is an heart-rending example of superbly imaginative storytelling.
Rufus, a young journalist on his first major assignment, travels into the troubled oil-rich Nigerian Delta, hoping to land his breakthrough news story: interviewing the kidnappers of a British oil engineer’s wife and meeting the captive. The dangers lurking among the oilfields and the pipelines that meander snake-like across the Delta’s waters cannot deter him, especially as he is in the company of his much-admired former mentor, the erstwhile prominent reporter, Zaq. Helon Habila’s new novel, OIL ON WATER is a confidently crafted and absorbing, in parts totally gripping, chronicle of human ambitions, tragedies and failures, but also of love, friendship and perseverance of the human spirit. Evoking the rich and beautiful yet fragile environment of the Delta, that is slowly being devastated by the greed for oil and money, Habila gently guides his different narrative strands into a poignant story that is profoundly personal even where these raise broader political and societal concerns.
Here are some of the things that make us smile: the sight of a beautiful baby, a glorious spring day, a sincere compliment, and a new installment, THE SATURDAY BIG TENT WEDDING PARTY, in Alexander McCall Smith’s wonderful series featuring Precious Ramotswe. The “traditionally built” Mma Ramotswe is happily married to Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni, proprietor of Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors, and along with her associate, the bespectacled and highly efficient Grace Makutsi, contentedly operates the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency in Gaborone. Little has changed, except that the date of Grace’s wedding to Mr. Phuti Radiphuti is drawing near. The bride has a great deal to do to get ready for this momentous event.
Lisbeth Salander and Vanessa Munroe share some commonalities: both experienced traumas in adolescence that cause them to disconnect to some degree in adulthood and display a few nearly sociopathic tendencies, both are superhumanly skilled with weapons and in command at the information-gathering game, both are extremely tenacious and are survivors, both share androgynous physical characteristics, both are willing to use sex as a tool but at heart do desire real intimacy, and both have few compunctions about taking vicious vengeance when personally threatened.
THE INFORMATIONIST is a drier name for a thriller than THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, and one can argue that Taylor Stevens’ new novel intends to piggyback success on the Salander trilogy phenomenon. However, be that as it may, The Informationist is a very compelling read in and of itself.
Incalculable grief cleaves to profound love in this elaborate, helical tapestry of a besieged people in postwar Freetown, Sierra Leone. Interlacing two primary periods of violent upheaval, author Aminatta Forna renders a scarred nation of people with astonishing grace and poise–an unforgettable portrait of open wounds and closed mouths, of broken hearts and fractured spirits, woven into a stunning evocation of recurrence and redemption, loss and tender reconciliation. Forna mines a filament of hope from resigned fatalism, from the devastation of a civil war that claimed 50,000 lives and displaced 2.5 million people. Those that survived felt hollowed out, living with an uneasy peace.
February 14, 2011
Â· Judi Clark Â· No Comments
Tags: Friendship, Grief, Identity, Loss, love, Political, Sierra Leone, Violence, War Story Â· Posted in: 2011 Favorites, Africa, Commonwealth Prize, World Lit, y Award Winning Author
Book Quote: “I’m a little boy, he thought. I have travelled much too far away. My parents and the other people I lived with are dead. And yet they live. They are still closer to me than the man called Father and the woman who doesn’t dare come close enough for me to grab her. […]
December 15, 2010
Â· Judi Clark Â· No Comments
Tags: 19th-Century, Henning Mankell, Time Period Fiction Â· Posted in: 2010 Favorites, Africa, Class - Race - Gender, Facing History, Sweden, Translated, World Lit, y Award Winning Author