Umtata

9781838591403 “A town can change a character quickly; one can revisit after only a few months and find it is not the same place as it was when one left.

Times change and local councils spend money on new identity just like Barney urgently wanted. (…) The visitor is lost, and it becomes unrecognisable.

When a child leaves their home town where they were born and reared, and moves to pastures green, on their return years later they may find that the roads and fields they scurried around as a child no longer exist; only the memories. ”

Like the town in this quote, can a dramatic event make a man’s character also change?

In this interesting sequel of The Compassionate Terrorist, the reader meets again Barney the fraudster and aggressor: after running away from the Shetlands and being a homeless man in London, he is now hiding in a small South African town. However, when he meets Naomi, a young mother of two children who have disappeared, Barney takes part in their finding, hoping deep inside this will redeem himself.

Unlike the other novels before, this new novel is inspired by real people, and is qualified by the author as “suspense / romance”. Indeed, suspense, love stories, betrayal are only some of the ingredients of this heart-racing story. At the heart of Brian Godfrey’s novel, the characters of Naomi and Barney are like the opposite sides of humanity; with its good and its bad sides, the relation between the two protagonists sometimes questions the very idea of crime and guilt. While Naomi is an innocent victim of manipulation, Barney, the former fraudster who wants to help her, will be faced with consequences he had never thought of. In his search for Naomi’s children, Barney will also search his own way to redemption. Is he becoming a helper or is he still a conman?

Umtata by Brian Godfrey

978-183859 1 403 / Matador (2020)

Review by Ioana Danaila

Ioana Danaila was born in Romania. She graduated from University Lyon 2 Lumière with a Masters in African Postcolonial Literature and a First degree in French for Non-Francophone people. She is the author of a collection of short stories and translated books from French to Romanian. She is trilingual in Romanian, French and English, and teaches English language and literature to highschool students in France.

Be(com)ing Nigerian : A Guide

61galnvco0lHOW TO DIE

1. You have to first understand that death is not a noun or a state. It is an event, the success of which requires proper planning.

2. One way to die is to ensure that in life, you did something worth remembering. This action need not be good or exemplary. In Nigeria no one cares if you were good or evil when you die. The only crime is dying without having done anything worthy of note. Like dying so poor no one knows your name. Death, especially that of someone rich or powerful, confers sainthood that cannot be challenged. (…) So, please, to die in Nigeria, acquire power and wealth.”

Welcome to Nigeria, natives and non natives, and prepare to set on a journey to a country that never ceases to stimulate the imagination of its inhabitants and travelers; a country where the good and the bad coexist in such a harmonious way that one cannot always tell the difference between them.

Godly laws and mysteries (written in “The Gospel according to Nigeria”), how to succeed in life, how to behave, how to speak, how to perform in society, how to die—here are some of the lessons that Elnathan John teaches his readership.

In a biting tone, John offers us a picture of what Nigeria looks like, and provides a comprehensive guide to what one should expect when living or traveling there. Funny, sarcastic, bitter sweet, this lucid satire reveals what excesses of power, corruption, and lack of education lead to, that is a society that suffers more than it benefits from political measures.

This hilarious and brilliant read criticizes universal vices and weaknesses in a fiercely free voice. It doesn’t apologize, doesn’t try to embellish things, doesn’t want to please. As the author says, “never, ever, explain satire”.

Be(com)ing Nigerian: A Guide by Elnathan John

978-1-911115-96-0 / Cassava Republic (2019)

Review by Ioana Danaila

Ioana Danaila was born in Romania. She graduated from University Lyon 2 Lumière with a Masters in African Postcolonial Literature and a First degree in French for Non-Francophone people. She is the author of a collection of short stories and a translator of books from French to Romanian. She is trilingual in Romanian, French and English, and teaches English language and literature to highschool students in France.

An Orchestra of Minorities

41pun2lp0tl“He lay by her, saying words which―although she, he and I alone could hear―were also heard in the realm beyond man as thunderous acclamations meant for the ears of man and spirits, the dead and the living, for the moment and for ever : ‘I have found it ! I have found it ! I have found it !’

Thus speaks Chinonso’s chi, the Igbo term for personal spirit or personal god, in favour of his host’s redemption, a plea which becomes the novel itself. Chinonso, the protagonist, has a remarkable story told by a spirit who has the complex role of defending him while observing with a neutral eye his every move, thought and feeling.

The story begins when Chinonso sees a young woman on a bridge ready to jump in the water and take her life, and convinces her not to. Ndali, a wealthy pharmacist-to-be, and Chinonso, a young farmer, begin a relationship which turns their world upside down and transforms everything around them. In an sobre tone, the chi often reminds the enthusiastic humans of their fragility and hopelessness, like Chinonso’s poultry in the sight of the hawk.

In a world where the dead are not dead and the spirits communicate with humans, the elegant language of Obioma’s second novel is itself the result of the mixture of English, Igbo and Nigerian pidgin. Infused with notions and images from the Igbo religious universe, the narrative unfolds under the form of a long and elaborate plea to defend the human nature and its inevitable mistakes. Although accustomed to the humans’ ways, the protagonist’s chi never ceases to marvel at the power love has over life, at how it can both elevate and destroy a man’s soul. In a sophisticated mixture of Igbo cosmology and ancient Greek tragedy, Chigozie Obioma’s brilliant novel advocates love as an overwhelming power which burns down everything on its way.

An Orchestra of Minorities by Chigozie Obioma

978-0-349-14318-7 / Norton (2019)

Review by Ioana Danaila

Ioana Danaila was born in Romania. She graduated from University Lyon 2 Lumière with a Masters in African Postcolonial Literature and a First degree in French for Non-Francophone people. She is the author of a collection of short stories and a translator of books from French to Romanian. She is trilingual in Romanian, French and English, and teaches English language and literature to highschool students in France.

Travelers

71ffb35osblGina stayed at her parents for six months, and it was while she was there that she applied for the Zimmer. Exactly six months to the day she left, she walked into our tiny apartment, her eyes shining with hope and excitement as she showed me the Zimmer fellowship email. That night she didn’t go back to her parents’. We lay in one another’s arms all night long. Berlin. Maybe this was what we needed. A break from our breaking-apart life.”

When a young couple move to Berlin to save their relationship, they have no idea that they would discover people whose stories will influence their lives and decisions forever. Instead of the “break” they imagined they would benefit from, they discover a world few people know and even fewer want to enter. As the novel moves on, the unnamed narrator and his wife Gina meet people from around the world who migrated to Europe in search of a better life.

In this novel in which almost every chapter is told by a different narrator, the travelers’ lives open up another world for the reader: from a character in prison to one who moves from one country to another to save his daughter from a forced marriage, all of them have a story to tell and, by doing so, their stories become means for them to be acknowledged by the others as dignified humans and not only as anonymous migrants.

The narrator’s story that mirrors all the others reminds us of Waiting for An Angel. Helon Habila writes a masterful study of human lives in all their complexity, and even more so in the context of dramatic displacement, the perfect setting for seeing what people are ready to do to survive, to save their dignity, and to sacrifice for their loved ones. The brilliant, powerful stories in Habila’s novel show us that, at the end of the day, we are all travelers through life and we all live to connect with others on this journey.

Travelers by Helon Habila

978-0-393-23959-1 / Norton (2019)

Review by Ioana Danaila

Ioana Danaila was born in Romania. She graduated from University Lyon 2 Lumière with a Masters in African Postcolonial Literature and a First degree in French for Non-Francophone people. She is the author of a collection of short stories and a translator of books from French to Romanian. She is trilingual in Romanian, French and English, and teaches English language and literature to highschool students in France.

A Policeman’s Lot

“The les45166539._uy500_ss500_sons of history, particularly the recent history of Africa, tell us that the timing has to be right for democracy to have a chance. Democracies can be abused and manipulated just as easily as any other kind of regime. In many African countries that timing was wrong; our near neighbour, Zimbabwe is a classic example. Here in South Africa, the timing seems to have been right. Whatever the problems this country faces, many of which I chronicle here, there are many positives and the necessary adjustments are being made by all.”

It is possible to live several lives. Such is the case of Terence J. Walter who had one in Great Britain and one in South Africa.

This vivid and honest account of a policeman’s responsibility starts in the borough of Hackney in London. Then, the author takes us on a remarkable journey around South Africa, the country where his profession brought him later in life. More than an insightful account of a policeman’s work, Terence Walter’s book is a complex study of human weaknesses and obsessions. Through his lens, policemen are both everyday heroes and psychologists.

The South African adventure then enters the scene as a new beginning in the author’s life. The homage he pays to this country is much related to the deep admiration Walter has towards Nelson Mandela, whom he shook hands with in the beginning of the 1990s. This great historic and political figure embodies South Africa, a place the writer describes with a remarkable sense of observation: its landscapes, its people and their cultures, as well as the complex social structures and the deep inhumanity of apartheid, are the pillars of Walter’s experience.

One should read A Policeman’s Lot as a two-folded work: a detailed policeman’s inquiry into the cities’ underground life, and the diary of a man who made South Africa his second home.

A Polieman’s Lot by Terence J. Walter

1095103156 / Independently published (April 2019)

Review by Ioana Danaila

Ioana Danaila was born in Romania. She graduated from University Lyon 2 Lumière with a Masters in African Postcolonial Literature and a First degree in French for Non-Francophone people. She is the author of a collection of short stories and a translator of books from French to Romanian. She is trilingual in Romanian, French and English, and teaches English language and literature to highschool students in France.

Fib and the Axe of Fury (Rising Evil book 1)

42221103._sy475_Slowly, I opened my eyes again. (…) I glanced over my shoulder and saw a greenish-brown fog shaped like a human. (…) The functioning part of my brain urged me to run away, but my feet refused to move; it was as if I’d been glued to the floor. (…)

‘Fib!’ Mo’s voice shouted, and I jumped from the shock. (…)

‘Are you okay, Fib?’ (…) You zoned out and started screaming!’

I straightened my glasses and prepared to tell her what had happened. But on second thought, I decided to shut my mouth. ”

Fib, a teenager in contemporary Nigeria, discovers one day that, when she takes her glasses off, that she sees things no one else can. Like many of the women in her lineage, Fib is a seer. What is more, she can also foresee certain events: Aaron, her friend, only has a few more months to live. Not taking into account her mother’s warnings, Fib will go farther than she ever thought she could. It is in the narrow space between obeying and transgressing the boundaries that Fib struggles to make her way and to help her friend survive, yet fails to envisage the whole picture.

Complicated relationships between mothers and daughters, teenage crisis, budding love, friendship and rivalryEsosa Kolawole’s novel is a thrilling fantasy prose on the background of Yoruba mythology and spirituality. Kolawole is one of the emerging writers who develop a literary genre which brings a new look on the teenagers’ world and struggles, as well as on the relation that young generations have with their ancestral cultural heritage. The alert rhythm and the strong characters make it an exciting read and an exciting first volume.

Order you copy here…

… and visit the site of Zuma Publishing for more news:

https://zumapublishing.com/?v=11aedd0e4327

Fib and the Axe of Fury by Esosa Kolawole

978-9785705805/ Zuma Publishing (2019)

E-book: 978-9785705812

Review by Ioana Danaila

Ioana Danaila was born in Romania. She graduated from University Lyon 2 Lumière with a Masters in African Postcolonial Literature and a First degree in French for Non-Francophone people. She is the author of a collection of short stories and a translator of books from French to Romanian. She is trilingual in Romanian, French and English, and teaches English language and literature to highschool students in France.

The Sound Of Things To Come

idumasoundTwo: One Man

Face washing

My life at the time was comprised of several face-washings. It was because of my nervousness, my heart’s refusal to be steady, my fear, the voices speaking gloom, and the imminent demise that I contemplated. (…) Each evening after I listenend to the news, especially on the evenings before the election results were announced, I went into the bathroom and washed my face. This became a graceless ritual, something I did without knowing what I was doing, perhaps only to look at my wet face in the mirror (…).

When I am in the car I begin to smile, looking in the rearview mirror, expecting to see my face has changed. It has not. I remember the days in Jos when I had the habit of washing my face. I remember Taibat’s hand on my head. I keep smiling to myself, thinking that I had survived, again. ”

Two ex-lovers come across one other when the woman’s sister needs physcological support after a breakdown.

Fathers and sons are endlessly reunited and separated in complicated circumstances.

In Emmanuel Iduma’s novel, no omniscient authority is above the individual look on one’s own life and choices. Each character represents a way to deal with the past and, more importantly, with the things to come.

Like in a polyphonic concert, the characters’ voices, harmonic or dissonant, create new connexions through their encounters. Like coincidences, the author says, they represent moments of (comm)union. Like a film using the back-and-forth time technique, this brilliant author explores the form of the contemporary novel by (de)constructing the literary fabric like a puzzle of voices and experiences.

So what could be the outcome of such a puzzling, puzzle-like masterpiece? If tension is methodically built until the end, it may be to show that what matters is not so much to give the reader clear answers as to keep asking questions and think of the possibilities they carry.

The Sound Of Things To Come by Emmanuel Iduma

978-0996577090 / The Mantle (2016)

Review by Ioana Danaila

Ioana Danaila was born in Romania. She graduated from University Lyon 2 Lumière with a Masters in African Postcolonial Literature and a First degree in French for Non-Francophone people. She is the author of a collection of short stories and a translator of books from French to Romanian. She is trilingual in Romanian, French and English, and teaches English language and literature to highschool students in France.

Praise Song for the Gravediggers

51pvxa8xael._sx331_bo1204203200_Victory Threads

she had proclaimed

in a combined fit

of whistfulness and swaggering insolence

she had had combs in Abidjan

with names

– Akissi, Ahou, Abla, Ama, Adjoua-

who understood the temperament

of each day’s hair story

who could dress your head

while wearing choruses of victory threads in your brain

preparing you to meet the day

haughty and wholly armoured ”

Poet, Teacher, Mother”. This is how Octavia McBride-Ahebee describes herself and, by doing that, she portrays herself as a craftswoman of words. From the cities of Côte d’Ivoire to the African-American spirituality, her poems travel around the world.

In this collection of poems, women move incessantly about the world, they criss-cross landscapes and cultures and create new ones. Aminata, the Malian woman crossing the Sahara Desert and ending up in an American city, represents one of the iconic images of this collection and gives an aura of dignity and creativity that defies any obstacle. In the hair she braids are also woven the stories of all the women who, like her, have passed on their heritage thus creating a world of words.

Courage, passion, dignity and freedom of the spirit: these are the leading values of the women figures who populate the space of Octavia McBride-Ahebee’s poems. They populate a world in which cultures are ever so permeable without losing their authenticity. What is more, they become ever more tolerant and complex as the voices who pass them on, having inherited the ancient cultural values, transform them into new stories.

Learn more about Octavia McBride-Ahebee’s work:

https://omcbrideahebee.squarespace.com/

http://omcbride-ahebee.blogspot.com/

Praise Song for the Gravediggers by Octavia McBride-Ahebee

978-1792945212 / Independently published (December 31, 2018)

Review by Ioana Danaila

Ioana Danaila was born in Romania. She graduated from University Lyon 2 Lumière with a Masters in African Postcolonial Literature and a First degree in French for Non-Francophone people. She is the author of a collection of short stories and a translator of books from French to Romanian. She is trilingual in Romanian, French and English, and teaches English language and literature to highschool students in France.

Triangulum

“I am a woman acting of her own will and desire. Do not attempt to contact me after this communication. In all likelihood, I am no longer here.

These lines mark the beginning of the note my colleague Dr Joseph Hessler presented me with three years ago, along with the other materials I was tasked to compile into a dossier meant to inform a State Defense Report. I didn’t. Instead, they became the following manuscript, which, with the now late Dr Hessler’s assistance, I have prepared for the public as TRIANGULUM.
At the time of writing, the sender of these materials remains unknown. We have at our disposal the note, as well as a cover letter, detailing further instructions. Then the materials themselves: a written record in the form of a memoir, followed by what appears to be a work of autofiction, as well as a set of digital recordings.”

When the South African National Space Agency receives a mysterious box from an equally mysterious woman saying that the end of the world is near, the story of the post-apartheid period unfolds under the form of a manuscript named TRIANGULUM.

The narrative takes us from the 1990s to 2040 into the memories of a mysterious narrator who recalls her teenage days, her friends and the haunting memory of her dead mother. It is the disappearance of three girls from their town that finally decides the narrator to go further in her search for clues of her mother’s abduction and death. Her journey leads her from her hometown to a laboratory and finally into a forest in which she hopes to find out what really happened to her mother.

Situated between science-fiction to philosophical fable and historical criticism, Masande Ntshanga’s multi-genre novel deals with a large number of topics of today’s world, from racism to ecologic urgency, and also opens a window onto a future that may not be as incredible as it first appears.

In this modern coming-of-age tale, Masande Nsthanga, awarded the PEN International New Voices Award in 2013, takes us on dystopic journey into the most suprising places, and also on a journey into the human soul haunted by the past, revolted by injustice and hungry for freedom.

Triangulum by Masande Ntshanga

978-1937512774 / Two Dollar Radio (to be released in May 2019)

Review by Ioana Danaila

Ioana Danaila was born in Romania. She graduated from University Lyon 2 Lumière with a Masters in African Postcolonial Literature and a First degree in French for Non-Francophone people. She is the author of a collection of short stories and a translator of books from French to Romanian. She is trilingual in Romanian, French and English, and teaches English language and literature to highschool students in France.

Aya Dane

71n5icidc-lIs art life reinvented?

Is it an escape from reality?

Miss Mai was quiet and seemed to hesitate.

‘This is my advice to you. Work hard, keep your eyes lowered. Then leave the country. Find a way. Swim across the blue channel if you must. Go. Run as far as you can from here. Don’t ever look back. There is nothing left here. We are all just waiting for death.’

Aya nodded and noticed the teacher’s hands were still on hers, warm and comforting. (…) She knew that the country she was bor in wasn’t intended for the likes of her. That she wasn’t welcome there, that she would never be wanted there. The outside world and its constant, illogical succession of images, chopped and fragmented, would be a part of her forever. ”

From her studio in Brooklyn, Aya Dane paints the world in vivid colours. In the appealing, yet alien world of the United States, Aya’s art is both her refuge and her way of relating to the others, until a mysterious client asks her to paint a canvass that will rush the past back to the present. From a modest neighbourhood in Tangiers to international fame in the high society of Cambridge, Massachussets, her life is constantly swaying between unspoken traumas from childhood and an unbreakable sense of freedom.

Aya’s story is is a lucid and powerful narrative in which nothing is left out, although not everything is clearly unveiled. In a brilliantly refined prose that mixes powerful images vividly painted with refined poetry and infinite melancholy, Mhani Alaoui draws the destiny of a woman who, because she cannot break free from her past, chooses to live in her own world of colours. Between Frida Khalo’s paintings and what could be an anti-Dorian Grey figure, in a remarkable display the author defines as “a kind of insane chronology, one where the mind takes over time, the past, present and future”, time becomes a to-and-forth movement that makes the narrative only more insightful.

Is, then, art life reinvented? Is it an escape from reality? Both questions lead to a kaleidoscope of answers as Aya Dane weaves a kaleidoscopic vision of art, memory and longing for home that goes beyond time and space.

Aya Dane by Mhani Alaoui

978- 1623719685 / Interlink Books (2019)

Review by Ioana Danaila

Ioana Danaila was born in Romania. She graduated from University Lyon 2 Lumière with a Masters in African Postcolonial Literature and a First degree in French for Non-Francophone people. She is the author of a collection of short stories and a translator of books from French to Romanian. She is trilingual in Romanian, French and English, and teaches English language and literature to highschool students in France.