Book review: Happiness like water


Happiness like WaterChinelo Okparanta

As promised here are my thoughts on this book.

      • For some reason, it is ridiculously priced at Exclusive Books and that’s if you can get it. I ended up getting it from Amazon at half price.
      • A part of me wanted not to compare her to that other famous Nigerian Writer and I tried most of the time.
      • The stories are divided into two parts – stories in the first half are based in Nigeria and the latter in America.
      • The predominant themes to her stories are religion, migration or identity, family dynamics and unexpectedly lesbianism, which begs the question, how many lesbians are there in Nigeria? (This scares me because of the traffic that will be lead to this blog ala this.) But in light of the recent anti-homosexuality bills in Nigeria and Uganda, it does raise the question of how difficult it is to be gay/lesbian in Africa. Culture notwithstanding.
      • She writes very simply but poignantly. A lot of the time, I had such strong feelings after most stories. Which to me is not necessarily a bad thing because I have to react to my stories to truly enjoy them otherwise it’s just not worth it.
      • I loved “On Ohaeto Street” because the description of where they lived reminded me so much of the estate I grew up in back in Nairobi. Very beautiful intro to the book. As with any short story, I was left wondering whether they got back together again?
      • The second story very touching as the wife had to go through the VERY public and then an equally private shame. Interesting also that it had to be the wife with a problem conceiving and not the guy. Like no one ever considered it could be him.
      • I also loved “America”. Quite a lot. I felt of all of them, this had the most potential to be drawn out further but maybe if it was, it wouldn’t have that same feel to it. Possibly. But reading this story, I did ponder on the issue of brain drain and how it was/is to some extent today that you haven’t quite made it in Africauntil you have gone overseas and studied/lived/worked. You can be great BUT and that’s a huge BUT.
      • As an eternal foreigner “Shelter” made me so sad. To be in a bad way and stuck in a foreign country without help or family. Worst nightmare.
      • Tumours and Butterflies” almost made me wail like a sick kid. I was probably quite emotional on the day I read it but it gutted me. Parts of you feel sorry for the mom that she is a battered lady, then you wanna feel sorry for the dad because he has Cancer and then you see him treat his daughter like that and you wanna get in there and beat him up. I thank God I am not a battered wife but her decision to side with her husband over her daughter I cannot even contemplate!
      • The title of the book comes from the story “Grace”. I felt like this story dragged on unnecessarily. However, is Happiness always fleeting … “maybe it is all about being on the verge of joy and similar small moments.” To me happiness is fleeting and joy is perpetual.

I loved this book, which is rare because I cannot be paid enough to read short stories. But this one, I would certainly give a proud 4.5 out of 5.

Happy reading!!

One response to “Book review: Happiness like water

  1. These stories made me sad. They were thought-provoking yes but I was honestly really sad at the end of every story and struggled to get through the book. I suppose I am a very emotional reader :(

    The second story stood out for me. It left me reeling – her description of the ritual with her husband, the description of how her mother (or was it mother in-law?) listening in on the couple. Her writing is beautiful especially how she personified that woman’s shame. It reminded me of how Salman Rushdie personified shame in the book (aptly) titled “Shame”.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s