Bite-size Review: The Spider King’s Daughter | Chibundu Onuzo

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The Spider King’s Daughter | Chibundu Onuzo

Beautifully crafted with a youthful slant, this novel tells a story of two unsuspecting teenage lovers: Abikė Johnson, a wealthy and favourite daughter of a multi-business owner, and a hawker who remains unnamed throughout the novel. Written in a first person parallel narrative, both protagonists reveal the vast contrast in their lifestyles, worlds and experience of Lagos, Nigeria. This novel starts off with an innocent twist, a seemingly harmless and enchanting love story with themes similar to the traditional fairy tale, Princess and the Frog. Continue reading “Bite-size Review: The Spider King’s Daughter | Chibundu Onuzo”

Bite-size Review: Nervous Conditions | Tsitsi Dangarembga

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Nervous Conditions | Tsitsi Dangarembga

In the frenzy of cultural and social transformations driven primarily by colonialism, the central characters of Nervous Conditions seek to find or exercise a displaced or lost identity. Yet the path towards self-discovery and acceptance leads to self- destruction. Dangaremba’s work unpicks the complex layers underpinning colonized subjectivity and identity reconstruction. The book offers a critique of colonial patriarchy seen through the lenses of its female characters, who stand as fragments of embattled consciousness. Like a jury to imperial delinquency, it calls the reader to witness the plight of women of different generations immured in the turmoil of double oppression. Continue reading “Bite-size Review: Nervous Conditions | Tsitsi Dangarembga”

Bite-size Review: The Slave Girl | Buchi Emecheta

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The Slave Girl | Buchi Emecheta

Much is known about the cruel system of slavery that blighted the African continent for almost 200 years. But in the Slave Girl, Emecheta turns our attention to the distinctive complexion of existing and cultural networks of slavery in Africa at the turn of the century. With her mastery of language and a gift for narrative, she brings to life the story of Objeta, an ill- fated ibuza girl sold to a wealthy aunt by her own brother. Continue reading “Bite-size Review: The Slave Girl | Buchi Emecheta”

Bite-size Review: So Long A Letter | Mariama Bâ

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So Long A Letter | Mariama Bâ

Set in an Islamic society in Senegal So Long a Letter recounts the intimate details of the breakdown of a marriage and the subsequent roller-coaster of emotions felt by an abandoned wife with 12 children to bring up alone. After 25 years of marriage the reason for this abrupt desertion is due to the husband’s choice to take a second, younger wife. Ramatoulaye confides her grief to her friend Aissatou in a series of letters which are markedly personal, retelling her inner most feelings and her struggle to come to terms with what her beloved husband, Modou, has done to her. Continue reading “Bite-size Review: So Long A Letter | Mariama Bâ”

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”