Bite-size Review: The House of Hunger | Dambudzo Marechera

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The House of Hunger | Dambudzo Marechera

House of Hunger as the title of Marechera’s novella effectively captures the cynicism and despair of Zimbabwe’s sociopolitical reality at the time of Ian Smiths controversial administration. Society is ‘hungry’ for political self-determination and retribution; yet through the skilfully crafted narrative it becomes more than just a comment on society, Marechera unapologetically forces his reader to critically engage with the enormity of colonialism’s impact. The repetitive use of visceral language combined with the powerful imagery it evokes creates a stagnant and cramped environment in which the unnamed protagonist and his counterparts attempt to survive. Continue reading “Bite-size Review: The House of Hunger | Dambudzo Marechera”

Bite-size Review: Devil on the Cross | Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o

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Devil on the Cross | Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o

This novel is extraordinarily unique for various reasons, the first being how it actually came into existence. Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o wrote it in his mother tongue Gîkũyũ, on toilet paper during his imprisonment in 1977-78, (he later translated it into the English). Another reason is the way in which African oral tradition is entwined within the text reflecting its initial Gîkũyũ origins but also adding to its creativity and style. Furthermore and perhaps the most controversial aspect of this novel is the depth of its satirical criticism of the neo-colonial stage of imperialism, and the abundance of allegorical facets. Capitalism and greed become personified as characters who proudly claim that ‘Business is my temple, and money is my god’. Continue reading “Bite-size Review: Devil on the Cross | Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o”

Bite-size Review: Efuru | Flora Nwapa

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Efuru | Flora Nwapa

Every so often a voice thunders from a distance and enraptures our imagination. The Nigerian writer Flora Nwapa, is one of those voices. Her first novel Efuru is a delightful read yet rarely found in the top ten collection of African literature. The central character Efuru, with all her abundant grace, beauty and virtue is blighted by misfortune when her very essence as a woman is measured against her ability to conceive again after the loss of her first and only child. Continue reading “Bite-size Review: Efuru | Flora Nwapa”

Bite-size Review: Ethiopia Unbound | J.E. Casely Hayford

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Ethiopia Unbound | J.E. Casely Hayford

An unusual work of fiction by one of Africa’s foremost thinkers.  J.E. Casely Hayford, commonly known for his political and cultural treatise on colonialism, cleverly works into his novel the powerful message of African emancipation. Through the experiences of the protagonist Kwamankra, Africa is renewed, by declaring its desire for freedom and reclaiming its customs and traditions. Continue reading “Bite-size Review: Ethiopia Unbound | J.E. Casely Hayford”

Bite-size Review: Things Fall Apart | Chinua Achebe

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Things Fall Apart | Chinua Achebe

Achebe, often deemed as The Godfather of all written African literature in English, in his exceptional and timeless classic beckons the reader to question and reason with the “conquered” history of Africans. Achebe vividly paints personal family recollections to deconstruct the colonial governance of the fictional Nigerian Igbo village, Umuofia, transposing this deconstruction to the rest of Anglophone African countries. Things Fall Apart examines how the British colonial administration and religious imposition threatens the harmonious customs and tradition of the Umuofian people. Continue reading “Bite-size Review: Things Fall Apart | Chinua Achebe”

Bite-size Review: Americanah | Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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Americanah | Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I must admit that before reading this novel I was originally sceptical due to my neutral fence against the ‘Chimamanda’ hype. Nonetheless, this book surprised me, and not just the good, gentle, ‘take your breath away’ kind of surprise, but the ‘oh-my-dear-God-did-she-really-just-write-this-I-can’t-believe-what-I’m-reading-somebody-slap-me-I’m-in-book-heaven’ kind of surprise. And I loved every moment – until the last quarter (we will come back to this). Americanah shares a story of two teenage lovers: Ifemelu and Obinze. Continue reading “Bite-size Review: Americanah | Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie”

Bite-size Review: Wrath of the Ancestors | A.C Jordan

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The Wrath of the Ancestors | A C Jordan

Once you open the first page, you’re transported to the heart of the Mpondomise region, camping around a blazing fire, wrapped in ochre blankets and enraptured by the storytelling performance. And in this performance, Jordan tells a tragic-fatalistic story about Zwelinzima, a missionary educated Xhosa prince, who reluctantly leaves university to take his rightful place as Chief of the Mpondomise. His inauguration fuels a clash of cultures and moralistic values between Mpondomise customs and beliefs against European civilisation and Christianity. Continue reading “Bite-size Review: Wrath of the Ancestors | A.C Jordan”

Bite-size Review: The Famished Road | Ben Okri

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The Famished Road | Ben Okri

1991 Booker Prize winner and that is of no surprise. Okri weaves a world where the physics of reality and spirituality intertwine, imposing an imaginary vertigo on the reader. This is a colourful novel with animated characters and a palpable presence. As you read, the interwined physical and spiritual worlds morph into a life of its own. You can visualise the decrepit roads, smelly gutters, poverty-stricken one-room apartments and petrol polluted air alongside the extraterrestrial, airy, kaleidoscopic, and imaginative spiritual realm. Continue reading “Bite-size Review: The Famished Road | Ben Okri”

Bite-size Review: The Collector Of Treasures and Other Botswana Village Tales | Bessie Head

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The Collector of Treasures and Other Botswana Village Tales | Bessie Head

The Collector of Treasures and Other Botswana Village Tales is a powerful collection of stories that centres on societal issues and human nature in a specifically African context. They are about the day to day lives and experiences that people go through in the midst of newly attained ‘independence’; issues such as power, sexuality, justice, tradition and modernity arise in a diverse yet interrelated range of ways that show how skilfully Head has gauged the relationship and connections the stories have with one another. Continue reading “Bite-size Review: The Collector Of Treasures and Other Botswana Village Tales | Bessie Head”

Bite-size Review: No Sweetness Here | Ama Ata Aidoo

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No Sweetness Here | Ama Ata Aidoo

And there really isn’t! In this collection of eleven short stories, Aidoo explores a newly independent Ghana during its season of nominal “progress” and “freedom” to reveal through her characters’ conversations the true depth of national divide. Within social conversations (community chatter and clandestine dialogues) Aidoo creates a rhythmic uproar of witty, pious, condemning, bewildering, cunning and entertaining voices throughout each story. Continue reading “Bite-size Review: No Sweetness Here | Ama Ata Aidoo”