I already loved Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, which, sometimes, is too much pressure for a new book. Thankfully, this book only confirmed my opinion. Set in America and Nigeria, this is a story about race, identity, home and love. I loved the writing, the journey of the characters, the time spent in Nigeria and was fascinated with the details about hair and being a non-American black person.
The Binti trilogy finished with Binti dealing with the war between the Khoush and Meduse people. Loyalty is tested, identity is constantly changing, and Binti must find strength beyond imagining to save her people, and her friends. This series is extraordinarily imaginative; and world-building is its focus. If you read more for character or plot, you may not find this is for you, but it has a deep sense of place, and is full of wondrous, vibrant, out of this world detail.
Another great African/Australian adventure from Tony Park, this time with an historical element. An Australian man is approached by a South African journalist about one of his ancestor’s time in South Africa, and German South West Africa, now Namibia, around the time of the Anglo-Boer War. He becomes involved in a dangerous mystery, and both the modern and historical storylines are full of action, intrigue, historical detail, and romance. Fast paced, with twists and turns, and a lot of fun.
Home is the second book in the Binti trilogy, and is set a year after Binti left her home in Africa for Oomza Uni, far away in space. Binti has thrived at Uni, but feels the need to go home to face her family and her culture. Along with typical coming of age elements, this story is full of imaginative world building, playing with folklore, science, and maths. Like the first, it is short, and also deals with trauma, transformation, prejudice, and love.
Zelie is a girl who makes mistakes, who gets in trouble. The events of one particular day change everything for herself, her family, and the whole of her country. Children of Blood and Bone is set in a fictional version of Nigeria, where magic existed, but is now held back by a violent king. Zelie begins a journey to bring it back. I listened to the audio book, and really enjoyed the accent, along with the imaginative detail, and the passionate fight to end oppression.
Binti is the first of her people to be offered a place at Oomza Uni, and she decides to go against their wishes. As she travels to the uni on a faraway planet, she is faced with a life and death situation with a violent, alien race. This is a tiny, award winning, sci-fi, afrofuturistic, coming of age novella, about a girl who leaves her traditional life in Africa to explore her own potential. I’m off to reserve the rest of the series.
Alice is struggling to adapt to life in Tangier with her new husband, when a friend from college, Lucy, turns up unannounced. They haven’t seen each other since a nasty accident, and things soon start to go wrong for Alice; is she being manipulated, or is she going mad? There’s a strong sense of place, Bennington College and the oppressive heat and dirt of Tangier, and the we swap perspectives between Alice and Lucy. It’s a little bit The Secret History, a little bit The Talented Mr Ripley, but while it was definitely psychological, and I found it enjoyable, it wasn’t all that thrilling. I do love the cover.
Korede’s younger sister, Ayoola, has just killed her third boyfriend, and calls practical Korede to come and clean up. Things get tricky when the sisters both have their eye on the same man. Lots of typical sister relationship issues, and some that are not so typical, in this darkly amusing book. It’s a quick read, with a great Nigerian setting.
I don’t think I have read anything quite like this. It is deeply imaginative, lyrical and magical, but I didn’t enjoy the experience very much. Ada is born with ogbanje – Nigerian gods – inside of her; they live in her mind and sometimes take over her body, trying at once to protect and destroy her. It could be a story of mental illness, or of the multiple selves we have within us. It is very dark, with trauma, physical and mental violence, and much wrestling with sexual and gender identity. It’s an uncomfortable read, but not a journey without value.
Three and a half stars for Hold, a story about Belinda, a Ghanaian teenager who, having adjusted from village life to that of a housegirl, makes another move, to London. In London, she lives with a Ghanaian couple, and their daughter, Amma, who is struggling, and her parents hope Belinda can get her back on track. It is a quiet coming of age story, dealing with culture, duty, shame, belonging and growing into a sense of self. My favourite character was the younger Mary, left behind in Ghana; spirited and funny. The pace of this novel is slow, and it didn’t move me quite as much as I feel it could have.