I read some really interesting books in 2017.
- On Black Sisters Street: Chika Unigwe – I read it in the context of the current mass migration tales and I helped me imagine the kind of backstories that some of the migrants are fleeing from.
- The Woman Next Door: Yewande Omotoso – Great read. As I read it I kept thinking it would make for a great TV mini-series.
- Rape: Pumla Dineo Gqola– Eye opening. Educative. Informative. Heavy topic, well written.
- When Breath Becomes Air: Paul Kalanithi – I cried after reading this one. It made me think of legacies and the things that drive me.
- Small Great Acts: Jodi Piccoult – I love her writing and as usual, there was a deep ethical question to ponder.
- An Elegy for Easterly: Pettinah Gappah – I am not a big short stories fan but I love the author and the stories did not disappoint. Must admit to the fact that I kept thinking back to these stories during Mugabe’s exit.
- Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City: Matthew Desmond – I love these kinds of books that delve into one deep topic. It was interesting to also see how eviction has interlinkages with so many other issues: unemployment, poverty, crime, food shortages.
- The Mothers: Brit Bennett – I enjoyed this read, it was an easy read but raised so many questions for me – especially on the role of faith in our lives.
- The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Pearce: Jeff Hobbs – Forgetting whether it is the author’s story to tell, this book broke my heart. For anyone that wants to read Hillbilly Elegy, I would rather recommend this one.
- Stay With Me: Ayobami Adebayo – Loved, loved, loved this one. Definitely recommending it to one and all.
- Who Will Catch Us As We Fall: Iman Verjee – Great story on Kenya post-2007. Faultless.
- Lyrics Alley: Leila Aboulela – This book made me dream of visiting Khartoum and The Sudan.
- Beneath the Lion’s Gaze: Maaza Mengiste – It helped me understand so much about Ethiopia. Definitely a must read.
- Kintu: Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi – A book from home. I initially thought it would be too ambitious and then under deliver but no, it was a great book to read. Get it.
- Pachinko: Min Jin Lee – I have a thing for dynastic reads and this delivered exactly what I love: joy, sadness, tears, laughter and triumph.
Posted in books, home
Tagged Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀, book club, books, Books reading, Chika Unigwe, Evicted, Iman Verjee, Jeff Hobbs, Jodi Piccoult, Kintu, Leila Aboulela, Maaza Mengiste, Min Jin Lee, Pachinko, Paul Kalanithi, Pettinah Gappah, Pumla Dineo Gqola, The Mothers, Yewande Omotoso
This definition of her: to go from her father to her husband, to be pretty, docile – a man made tragedy. Her soul was made of larger, more powerful things, things that create or desecrate armies and galaxies. This is why when she loves she changes kingdoms, and when she hates she destroys legacies. Nikita Gill, Jasmine, A Princess That Belonged To Herself First
Posted in books, Heart matters, home, marriage, school, working
Tagged books, Books reading, Chicken, church, faith, fish, friendship, gender, marriage, new year resolutions, pasta recipe, poetry, recipes, Sunday Reads, working
I love New York, I just love it and so I wanted to share a couple of books that remind me of the Big Apple.
- I have shared before that I did not really like Open City and I thought he was just showing off.
- I LOVED Behold the Dreamers. I felt it was more relateable.
- Everyone is raving about the Leavers but I felt it would have been a better short story but it gave me a glimpse of Upstate New York.
Do you love the Big Apple and have you read any books based on this city?
Posted in books
Tagged Behold the Dreamers, books, Books reading, Imbolo Mbue, Lisa Ko, New York, Open City, Teju Cole, The Leavers, travel, travelling
So I recently had occasion to reflect on the past year and to start planning for 2018 and decided to close out the year by reading ten books until the end of coming February. SO here is my reading list (the ones struck off are already complete):
Kintu – Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi
- All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doer
Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng
Her Body and Other Parties – Carmen Maria Machado
The Leavers – Lisa Ko
Pachinko – Min Jin Lee
A Column of Fire – Ken Follett
Negroland: A Memoir – Margo Jefferson
Dear Ijeawele or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Warmth of Other Suns – Isabel Wilkerson
- Their Eyes were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston
- Between the World and Me – Ta-Nehisi Coates
- The Gene: An Intimate History – Siddhartha Mukherjee
- Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind – Yuval Harari
Always Another Country: A Memoir of Exile and Home – Sisonke Msimang
Posted in books, life
Tagged books, Books reading, Celeste Ng, Chimamanda, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, essays, fiction, goal setting, goals, Isabel Wilkerson, Ken Follett, Kintu, Negroland, non-fiction, Pachinko, reading, Sisonke Msimang, The Gene
Posted in books, design, home, life
Tagged Afghanistan, Africa, books, Books reading, cooking, faith, home decor, ministry, motherhood, Nairobi, recipes, Sunday Reads, Uber, women
So this is my current handbag that I bought at Maasai Market in Nairobi, Kenya
- Brown notebook and a pen
- Black kindle / novel
- Contacts lenses
- Lip something or other
- A pair of sunglasses
- Ear phones and obviously phone
- Pink Wallet
- White power bank
- Spectacles Case
- Green scarf
So, what’s in your handbag????
“Silence is often a woman-flavoured thing. It is guilty of holding countless women’s names and voices hostage inside of its spine and its ribcage.” Nikita Gill
Posted in books, Heart matters, home, marriage
Tagged books, Books reading, cooking, entertainment, India, Indian cuisine, marriage, Pasta, pasta recipe, recipes, Sunday Reads
Against the backdrop of the political shenanigans in Kenya, I read this very interesting book on Kenya by a Kenyan Indian author.
About the Book.
Haunted by a past that has kept her from Nairobi for over three years, Leena returns home to discover her family unchanged: her father is still a staunch patriot dreaming of a better country; her mother is still unwilling or unable to let go of the past; and her brother spends his days provoking the establishment as a political activist. When Leena meets a local Kikuyu artist whose past is linked to her own, the two begin a secret affair—one that forces Leena to again question her place in a country she once called home.
Interlinked with Leena’s story is that of Jeffery: a corrupt policeman burdened with his own angers and regrets, and whose questionable actions have unexpected and catastrophic consequences for those closest to him. Who Will Catch Us As We Fall is an epic look at the politics and people of Kenya.
So my general thoughts:
- The book had quite a slow start, I mean you could tell she is hinting at something that happened in the past but she wasn’t going to give away anything quite so quickly.
- I thought it was a good attempt for the author to include Kiswahili phrases but it probably needed an editor who also spoke Kiswahili as in the absence of that the book had basic editorial mistakes like the police moto: Utumishi kwa wote, not utamishi kwa wote; Jogoo House not Jogo House.
- I thought that the city of Nairobi could have been more prominent unless the narrow lens through which it was presented was necessary to present how insular the Indian community in Kenya is?
The book had a few major themes that were particularly meaningful to me.
- Love that she talks about the race/tribe relations between Indians and Africans in Kenya. How there is a sense of mistrust and almost antagonistic hate or resentment. This was best played out by the employer – employee relations by the Indian mama and her Kikuyu/ African maid.
- I thought the discussion between Jai and Ivy at the SONU meeting about what makes a Kenyan Kenyan quite insightful. It made me wonder whether by the same reckoning I would be classified as one because though by birth and upbringing I am one, then again, am I actually one? Will Indians ever be viewed as Kenyan?
- My surprise at Jai choosing to study at UoN instead of going to England which as the mom confirms is the better option and generally the done thing among this sub population.
- It was interesting to read about Pio Gama Pinto because he is one person who history has not represented very well even all these years later.
- Jai could play outside but Leena couldn’t.
- Jeffrey just “took over” his friends wife like she was a spare item and no one questioned that.
- Also the fact that the wife just rolled over and adjusted to this new reality.
- The dynamics between a maid and her employer were very startling and playing into the perception of race and/or tribe in the book is the difference in treatment for a maid between a white and Indian employer.
- Jeffrey wielded significant power and that was how over time he was able to become as corrupt as he was.
- Who really ran the home between Jai’s parents, the mom or the dad?
- Leena’s characterisation of being in Nairobi vs being in London and how one can reimagine / build it up into something bigger than it really is. (p. 335)
- I loved the following quotes that best typified Nairobi.
“I love this country but I must accept it for what it is. A place where thieves are celebrated and good men die unremarkable deaths.” (p. 357)
“Nairobi is a sly town. It is so small that run-ins with people one is trying to avoid are a common occurrence, yet it is segmented enough to keep two searching individuals apart. (p. 384)
Not as ambitious as Dust but for a contemporary book, it was a great effort and I would certainly recommend it to anyone.
Posted in books, Heart matters, home
Tagged books, Books reading, Dust, gender, home, Iman Verjee, Kenya, Kenyan Indians, Kiswahili, Nairobi, power, race, tribe, Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor
Posted in books, home, marriage, working
Tagged Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀, books, Books reading, cooking, Kenya, lentils, marriage, Ngugi wa Thiong'o, Nobel Prize, recipes, Sunday Reads, weddings. planning, women, women and work, Zeitz Mocaa
I recently noticed that I have been reading a lot of Nigerian/ Ghanaian authored books and so I set myself a challenge to diversify my reading to other parts of Africa. Here are some of the books on my to-read list.
- Lyrics Alley – Leila Aboulela (Sudan)
- So Long a Letter – Mariam Ba (Senegal)
- Beneath the Lion’s Gaze – Maaza Mengiste ( Ethiopia)
- Flame and Song – Philippa Namutebi Kabali-Kagwa (Uganda)
Posted in books, Heart matters, home
Tagged book club, books, Books reading, Ethiopia, Flame and Song, Leila Aboulela, Maaza Mengiste, Mariam Ba, Philipa Namutebi Kabali-Kagwa, So Long a Letter, Sudan, Uganda
Posted in books, design, Heart matters, home, life, marriage
Tagged 90s Music, ALU Mauritius, books, Books reading, decolonisation, education, faith, Kabali-Kagwa, Kenya, Kenyan elections, Kintu, marriage in Kenya, motherhood, music, Nigeria, photography, race, recipes, Refugees, Sunday Reads, Uganda
Why has South Africa been labelled the ‘world’s rape capital’? What don’t we as South Africans understand about rape? In Rape: A South African Nightmare, Pumla Dineo Gqola unpacks the complex relationship South Africa has with rape by paying attention to the patterns and trends of rape, asking what we can learn from famous cases and why South Africa is losing the battle against rape. This highly readable book leaps off the dusty book shelves of academia by asking penetrating questions and examining the shock belief syndrome that characterises public responses to rape, the female fear factory, boy rape, the rape of Black lesbians and violent masculinities. The book interrogates the high profile rape trials of Jacob Zuma, Bob Hewitt, Makhaya Ntini and Baby Tshepang as well as the feminist responses to the Anene Booysen case.
I thoroughly enjoyed the book and would happily recommend it to anyone. It is obvious not a light or easy read and so even the review will have to be organised the different themes that I picked up on. Please get the book and share it with your friends and loved one and most importantly, men.
What is Rape?
- Rape is not a moment but a language (p. 22)
- Rape is violence and not sex (29)
- … the believability of a rape survivor depends on how closely her rape resembles her society’s idea of what a rape looks like, who rapes, who can be raped, when and how. (29)
- The story told by a woman needs a body of evidence. It is not an interest in the pain of the rape, but a burden of proof placed on the survivor or victim of rape. (29)
The Black Woman as a sexual and rapeable object
- At the same time that the rape of slave women was routine within slavery, slavocratic society created the stereotype of African hyper sexuality which sought to both justify and authorise the institutionalised rape of slaves. The stereotypes held that slave women could not be raped since like all Africans they were excessively sexual and impossible to satiate.(43)
- At the same time that slave women were being routinely raped as a means to multiply their masters slaves, slave men, especially when they were African slaves were cast as dangerously sexual, with a ravenous sexual appetite better suited to slave women but with a particular danger to white women. (43)
- While the rape of slave women was profitable, it also threatened ideas of racial hierarchy and produced anxieties about race-mixing … of the unspeakable sexual intercourse between white women and slave men … about the loss of control over the bodies of white women, as much as it was about the idea of white women becoming impure. (45)
- Until the abolishment of the death penalty, no white man has been hanged for rape, whereas the only Black men who were hung for rape had been convicted of raping white women; no white man or Black man had been convicted and sentenced to death for raping a Black woman. (52)
- The image of poor, young Black men as the figure of the rapist is not the reality SA women live under. (11)
- We need to confront violent masculinities. We need to confront and reject violent men and the patriarchal men and women who enable them. (67)
- “Your silence will not protect you.” Audre Lorde (67)
- “All our silence is … complicity.” bell hooks (67)
- If we accept that it is time to render all forms of gendered violence genuinely illegitimate in all spaces we occupy, then it follows that to do so we need to stop making excuses, that we take up the challenge to constantly debunk rape myths wherever we encounter them because all gender-based violence is brutality, a form of gender war against survivors’ bodies and psyches. (143)
- Rape has survived as long as it has because it works to keep patriarchy intact. It communicates clearly who matters and who is disposable. Those who matter are not afraid of being raped because they have not been taught to fear sexual assault. (21)
- Patriarchy trains us all to be receptive to the conditions that produce- and reproduce- female fear, especially when it is not our own bodies on the assembly line. (80)
- All men, no matter what race, class or religion have patriarchal power and can choose to brutalise and get away with it. (151)
- Tired, hungry, distracted women are easier to control. (40)
- The republic of SA has the contradictory situation where women are legislatively empowered, and yet we do not feel safe in our streets or homes. (65)
- The manufacture of female fear uses the threat of rape and other bodily wounding but sometimes mythologises this violence as benefit. (79)
- The threat of rape is an effective way to remind women that they are not safe and their bodies are not entirely theirs. It is an exercise in power that communicates that the man creating fear has power over the woman who is the target of his attention: it also teaches women who witness it their vulnerability either through reminding them of their own previous fears or showing them that it could happen to them next. (79)
- The manufacture of female fear requires several aspects to work:
- the safety of the aggressor,
- the vulnerability of the target,
- the successful communication by the aggressor that he has the power to wound, rape and/or kill the target with no consequences to himself. (80)
- Women are socialised to look away from the female fear factory – to pretend it is not happening and to flee when ignoring it becomes impossible. (80)
- Excuses make violence against women possible – they are part of the complicated network that says women are not human so our pain is generalised, unimportant, so we give violent men permission to keep all those they deem vulnerable such as women, men, and gender non-conforming people or children. (151)
- South Africa has a greater problem with the existence of the […] rape survivor and victim that trouble by pointing to her/his/their own pain in South African public culture. The rapist is welcome to live and boast and be celebrated or lambasted for his hypermasculinity, even as he continues to flourish financially. (165)
This book helped me to understand the sexual objectification of African women and how we are often viewed as desirable and rapeable things by White and African men at large. Specifically for the White men, that attraction that often precedes that revulsion for deigning to be attracted to this lesser thing. Also, I could see how the morality laws are mainly to tame African men’s (sexual) appetites from being unleashed fully on (tired, hungry and distracted: read as helpless) White women. So on the one hand, it is perfectly fine to protect White women while on the other, prey on African women and continue to rape them and then blame them for it afterwards.
I also have a response to the cry “Not all men … ” if, and indeed it is the case, all men do not rape why do other men not call out these known rapists? Why don’t societies evaluate their ideas of a man and get their sons to grow up in a way that does not require them to diminish or brutalise women in order to feel fulfilled and accomplished. Being a man does not involve violence, rape or other attacks on women.
When I read the chapter of the female fear factory, I finally had to confront my own habits to counter this fear of being raped: smile at a group of men when they greet me even if I do not want to greet them; do not enter a loo if it is in a deserted part of the mall and there is a man outside; wear clothes that do not show my form if I will be going to certain crowded places; don’t walk in certain places after dark and the list goes on …
In closing this poem fully captures some of what this book tries to address: if he raped you, why didn’t you change/ who can be raped and how do they need to act afterwards? Also, this little paragraph about why the image of an independent black woman is a relic of racism.
Posted in Heart matters
Tagged Being Black, books, Books reading, Feminism, feminists, Gqola, men, Pumla Dineo Gqola, rape, South Africa, women
- How to read more books this year. I am definitely taking it to heart by reducing my junk TV viewing and making sure I always have a book as I go about various chores.
- A reading list on Kenya in case you are interested.
- If a story moves you, act on it!
- This article on insecurity made me stop and think. Really hard!
- Somali nicknames are hilarious 🙂
- So many white tears in this article. I see that they have only a given demographic of foreign spouses married to South Africans.
- Also, this IS cultural expropriation.
- More on how couples deal with finances.
- I didn’t know there were Nigerian Jews in Johannesburg. Today’s fact!!
- What does it mean to be a boy or girl? National Geographic asks 9/10 year old kids.
- Stealing from one of the comments, “This is by far the best article I’ve read regarding LBGT and the gospel.”
- Chocolate cake and another vegetarian pasta recipe.
Posted in books, Heart matters, home, life, marriage
Tagged Books reading, Christianity, culture, faith, foreigners, growing up., homosexuality, Kenya, marriage, money, names, Nigeria, pasta recipe, race, recipes, selfesteem, Somali
Both of these books have a similar theme and I read them back to back which made me so angry. But, they are well written and I loved them equally and would happily recommend them.
I love both of these ladies and so it goes without saying that I would enjoy their writing.
I love Jhumpa Lahiri’s writing. It’s simply beautiful. I have to say that anytime I say I read short stories, it’s obvious that I love the author.
African literature is doing SO WELL. SO WELL. Both of these books are so well written, you just have to go out and get them and savour them for yourself. Yum!!!
Posted in books
Tagged 2016, books, Books reading, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Colson Whitehead, Dinaw Mengistu, Imbolo Mbue, Jhumpa Lahiri, reading, Shonda Rhimes, Yaa Gyasi
I have this Wishlist off Amazon with a list of books that I would love to read (click on the book to the Amazon link).
- I am not a Zadie Smith but I find that this book appeals to me and I’m anxiously waiting for it to be released.
- I hope the Couple Next Door does not disappoint like The Girl on the Train did. The story sounds intriguing though so hopefully not.
- I can’t remember where I saw Lauren Groff’s book but it remains relevant.
- There was a time all I heard was Angela Duckworth. Also, I am curious about nature of nurture so this sounds intriguing.
- I love this author, so hopefully Askari delivers.
- A friend recommended Isabel Wilkerson’s book.
- Anthony Doerr’s book seems to be highly acclaimed so I would of course love to read and tick it off.
- I listened to Sheena’s TED Talk and loved this topic.
Once read these books, I will post the reviews.
- I have read ten of these 50 must-read books by African female writers.
- Exclusive Books publish their first newsletter focused on African Lit. Great start.
- A South African church in pictures.
- Hot jams to get you ready for the week ahead!
- “Beyonce’s style of feminism is not my own.” Chimamanda Adichie.
- I would venture a guess that most black women have this growing up with black hair story.
- On intersectionality. Yaa Gyasi’s essay on what it means to be Ghanaian in America.
- Pettinah Gappah’s recent short story.
- Love and Johannesburg. The couple reminds me of the Mr and I.
- 21 gifts for the creative black woman in your life.
- A guide to Africa’s dictators. Here and Here.
- Rachel Strohm highlights work by the team at Democracy in Africa in putting together a long reading list of articles on African issues by African scholars.
- This page showing Everyday Africa.
- But why is my leader like this? Not sure we need mandarin studies in Uganda just yet.
Posted in books, good, Heart matters, home, life, marriage, school
Tagged Africa, African Presidents, Africans, Books reading, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, faith, Feminism, Johannesburg, Museveni, music, natural hair, Pettinah Gappah, race, Yaa Gyasi
The story that you have asked me to tell you does not begin with the pitiful ugliness of Lloyd’s death. It begins on a long-ago day in August when the sun seared my blistered face and I was nine years old and my father and mother sold me to a strange man.
Memory, the narrator of Petina Gappah’s The Book of Memory, is an albino woman languishing in Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison in Harare, Zimbabwe, after being sentenced for murder. As part of her appeal, her lawyer insists that she write down what happened as she remembers it. The death penalty is a mandatory sentence for murder, and Memory is, both literally and metaphorically, writing for her life. As her story unfolds, Memory reveals that she has been tried and convicted for the murder of Lloyd Hendricks, her adopted father. But who was Lloyd Hendricks? Why does Memory feel no remorse for his death? And did everything happen exactly as she remembers?
Moving between the townships of the poor and the suburbs of the rich, and between past and present, the 2009 Guardian First Book Award–winning writer Petina Gappah weaves a compelling tale of love, obsession, the relentlessness of fate, and the treachery of memory.
The book reminded me of the book, We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo particularly when she talks of the Harare township where Memory grew up. The characterisation of township life was totally believable and reminded me of my experience growing up. The book also does a good job of personifying the life behind bars and the dynamics of womanhood and female friendships.
Overall, Gappah is a lovely story teller, she builds it up slowly and steadily then lets it slow down later. I loved the pace. It totally sucked me in and I read it over a day or two. Then at the end I just hugged the book and smiled. The story continually switches between a flashback to the past and present time. Despite this, it was still easy to follow the broader tale.
Common themes raised in the book include: language, memory, family (siblings, mother-daughter, husband-wife), religion, colonialism(or race as a subset). Various questions I had though while reading the book include:
- In light of the decolonised free education in our lifetime protests currently happening in South African universities, is the best education White/ Western and in a foreign (ex-colonialist) language? To what extent has this changed? Would you/ I feel comfortable to take our kid to a native school ala Spilt Milk? I am not sure. In terms of decolonising language, the best book I have read on this topic so far is Decolonising the Mind by Ngugi wa Thiong’o.
- The book also touches on Africa’s complicated history with the White Man. Was Lloyd African? Why because he spoke the language and understood the culture / had allowed himself to be immersed in it fully? If we contrast Lloyd and Alexandra the sister, who is more African?
- Colonialism and the White Mans’ burden also comes across when we look at the motives of Lloyd in adopting Memory.
- That duality of existence that I find so intriguing about South Africans and now Zimbabwe. That deep belief in ancestry and mainstream religion or a more modern life. I grew up raised in a predominantly Bible-focused culture and so this duality is totally alien to me.
- Do we trust our memories? Is it ever as we think or are there things we remember that as we have gotten older we have to come realise are not as they were. As the last child in my home, I have some clear memories of myself as a child but to be honest, I know that a lot of them are mainly based on what I have been told and not necessarily what I particularly remember. What are your earliest memories?
In closing, I am not sure why they did not translate the Shona bits which made me wonder who the real audience is here. It was quite frustrating for me a non-Shona speaker.
Posted in books
Tagged Book of Memory, Books reading, education, family, language, memory, NoViolet Bulawayo, Pettinah Gappah, race, religion, Shona, Zimbabwe
I recently read a book that I just loved.
That I just enjoyed.
That allowed me to be in the moment.
That fully had me in its grasp from start to end.
At the end of which, I hugged the book to my chest and sighed and it felt like I had just experienced the most exciting thing ever!
This is not even a review beyond the fact that I read a great book and you should check it out too.
I had a few books that I needed to get through and here are my thoughts on some of them.
Coconut by Kopano Matlwa
- The story talks about identify, self expression and family as well as issues of class and wealth and post-colonial African societies.
- Made me ask myself what makes me African. Is it my dreadlocks, my clothing style, the language I speak or not speak. My race perhaps? Africans come in many moulds and it is fine because we build up each other and our environment.
- It’s critically acclaimed and I agree that it’s definitely an important piece of literature for our time.
- The writing style is not great and it was very confusing to know when it was a thought or the actual storyline and a good editor would have helped with this. But its a few pages so you could quickly get past that.
Spilt Milk – Kopano Matlwa
- I quite liked this book, slightly better written but it definitely had more promise than it finally delivered because it just ended abruptly. To be honest, it also started just as abruptly so maybe this is a stylistic feature?
- Can’t really say much about the other themes but the theme of education and a School that influences young African minds and philosophy personally appealed to me.
- I also loved that she paid homage to all the (black) African greats and it was very encouraging to see this greatness that has gone before us. Led me to ask myself, who is writing the African story? My story, your story?
- Loved the story and would definitely recommend it.
Under the Udala Trees – Chinelo Okparanta
- I love, love, love this book. Love the author and her previous collection of short stories. So before you ask, I will recommend this book.
- Themes: love, marriage/ relationships, family, homosexuality, loss, identity.
- I love here writing style and the language she uses also how she develops her characters. You get to really understand them and start to root for them.
- The novel is extremely complex and multi-layered and is not something you read casually.
- I have shared before my thoughts on homosexuality and fully stand by the fact that the action is sinful but the individuals are beloved of God and so I read the story more for the literature but not because I stand by or believe in it.
- Nigeria has the Biafran War that has been included in a lot of literature. This made me think of what contemporary Kenyan or Ugandan writers talk about as that definining moment of our history.
Dust – Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor
- This book is a historical account of Kenya as a novel. It takes us through the history of a nation through the story of a house and a family from 1963 to 2007/8 when the post-election violence happened.
- If I had to give any criticism, its that the book has two very distinct parts and only the very patient will see it to the end and enjoy it. It starts slow and seems patchy and disjointed in certain places then it picks momentum and takes off. Beautiful work!!
- There are a lot of characters, yes, but they are all interconnected so its quite easy to lace through them.
- The books themes include: nationalism/ identity, love, passion, corruption, leadership, art/ creativity.
- Must read to anyone wishing to understand Kenya or planning a visit there.
Have you read anything interesting recently?
Posted in books
Tagged Africa, Biafran War, books, Books reading, Chinelo Okparanta, coconut, Dust - Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor, identity, Kenya, Kopano Matlwa, reading, Spilt Milk
Following this summary of what is currently on my to-read bookshelf I have a couple of books that I would like to review.
Happiness is a Four Letter Word – Cynthia Jele
I loved this book, it deals with two things that I am particularly passionate about: Johannesburg and female relationships.
- The book is what would happen if Sex and the City had been cast in a cosmopolitan African city. If you would love to see that, check out the YouTube series, An African City.
- The themes are easily recognisable: love, family, beauty, work/ career advancement, marriage, female friendships.
- The book is a really easy read, I started on Friday at 7 and finished the next day by 12.
- Having said that, it is definitely a conversation starter and will have you thinking deeply about some of the issues dealt with for instance, what would I tell a dear friend that was cheating on her husband because she did not exactly marry him for love? Or a friend that rekindles communication with an old ex?
- Only concern and I guess because of my personal views, I feel like the author portrays a very negative view of (Black) relationships and someone that is not acquainted with any Black people might take it as a given that this is how our love dynamics play out. Yes it’s a novel, but their portrayal is definitely very one-sided, what happened to “normal“?
- Would I recommend it? Definitely yes!! I actually cannot wait for the author to release a second book.
Men of the South – Zukiswa Wanner
A bit of a preliminary disclaimer is that I read this book on the back of Happiness and the after-glow it gave me.
- The book’s main theme is love and relationships (gender dynamics, hetero- or homosexuality, family and friendships) and it definitely deals with each of these in turn.
- The book is set in Johannesburg and Cape Town, cities that I can safely say I am familiar with which makes the reading that bit enjoyable when I can understand the physical setting.
- The book provides an entry point to have some difficult conversations for example, being a Black homosexual in a culture where one is expected to get a wife and settle down or what if I earn more than my husband and can take care of him, should he stay home while I work?
- However, I think it attempted to do too much in a few pages and fell short. Hence, it was not as memorable as it could possibly be. I also felt that the first person reportage was not too helpful either.
- Overall, the book was quite predictable and I would not recommend it unless you maybe had a few hours and did not want to be wowed but wanted to tick a book off your reading list.
Rachel’s Blue – Zakes Mda
I tried to read this book and failed to get into it despite trying. In light of my recent advice on how to read more books, I am giving up and will mark this is a non-read on my part. My biggest issue I suppose is that I love it when he writes about various aspects of South African people and the setting of this book was too different for me to adjust my expectations accordingly.
Posted in books, Heart matters, home, life, marriage, working
Tagged being gay, Being Zulu, books, Books reading, Cynthia Jele, female friendship, friendships, Heart matters, home, life, love, marriage, reading, relationships, working, Zakes Mda, Zukiswa Wanner