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.

Ghost Tribes : The Ghost of Africa

Image result for the ghost of africa gomaniSurvive! I must survive. I race through these dark gloomy woods, dodging trees from side to side. Seven of us entered this hell of a forest; seven hybrids, sent to apprehend IT. One of us is, so far, dead—slaughtered by the hand of the demon that now pursues me. What kind of demon makes easy hunt of beings as lethal as hybrid? No one man can stand on par against just one of us, let alone seven. Yet here we are—hunted like prey by the very demon we came to capture.”

When the Lozi princess Likando, heir to the throne, is aggressed by a group of “mixed-breeds”, people with parents of different origins, before her maturity ceremony, she embarks on an incredible adventure which brings her before the legendary Ghost of Africa, a terrorizing figure people believe to be a demon dominating the territory where the Lozi tribe and many others live.

In this alert historic fantasy novel, Venancio Gomani displays a wide range of characters both fascinating and troubling. The elegant writing style mirrors an almost Shakespearian plot inspired by oral stories about love, rivlary and betrayal, and in which oral tradition mingles with history. In an African mythical land, where the world of spirits and the world of humans intertwine, where stories and History always go together, story-telling is one of the essential forms of knowledge passed on from one generation to another. It is from this immense immemorial heritage that Venancio Gomani takes his inspiration.

The first from the series Ghost Tribes, the novel The Ghost of Africa introduces an enigmatic character whose fame cut across generations and created an aura of fear and fantasy. What the novel points at, finally, are the individual stories that grow and entangle to form a vast, complex web of tales that create the background of History and people’s lives. Here is an tribute to story-telling, legends and tradition who necessarily speak about what lies ahead.

Ghost Tribes: The Ghost of Africa by Venancio C. Gomani Jr.

ASIN: B07MHG3CK5 / Kindle edition (January 1, 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.

 

Sefi Atta : Selected Plays (to be released in April 2019)

51szviykx2bl._sx331_bo1204203200_« Taiwo makes a lot of noise. It has never been my way. I make up my mind up, even if it takes a while. Everyone thinks Taiwo is stronger, because she talks so much. I think she is weak. (…) I’ve never been a crier, and this is my decision. It is my decision. Taiwo always tries to tell me what to do, but not today. (…) I will let everyone know what I’ve decided. »

A young woman learns a hidden truth about her fiancé just before their engagement party.

An elderly widow and her old flame meet again forty years later.

A divorcée gets help from her ex-husband when moving into a new house and bond again.

In these domestic scenes, Sefi Atta manages to capture the intimate atmosphere of the family cell not as a homely, cosy cocoon, but as a complex labyrinth of emotions and ties which never cease to change. What the plays have in common is staging moments of revelation, moments when truth is made public and no one, not even the closest or loved ones, cannot hide it or turn away from it any more.

The langage and rather short length of the plays contrasts with the incredibly complex and multi-facetted relations the characters have : everyday life situations are exposed so as to make us reflect not only on parenthood, married life or friendship means, but also to see how domestic life echoes onto the social relations at a larger scale. Between family and nation the difference is smaller than it seems, because the tensions within the home are always linked in some way to the bigger picture.

Sefi Atta’s brilliant collection of plays is a way of peaking into the intimacy of the home where the sound of the outside world is always close ; students, feminists, elderly lovers, all discover how relations with the closest people are infinitely rich and risky. The stage, the perfect compromise between home and public place, is also the place of revelations within the family ties and within the human soul.

Sefi Atta: Selected Plays by Sefi Atta

978-1623719791/ Interlink Publishing (to be released April 9, 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.

The Day of the Orphan

51g5xxvv6gl« Everyone called him Saga, though that was not what his parents had named him. He was fidgeting at his wooden government- issue desk in his very good-for-Africa sized classroom of only 30 students. His teachers were lucky; many had to cope with as many as a 100 students or more in each class. (…) Taken separately, the features that made up his face could not be individually tagged as remarkable or chiselled or outstanding. But put together, most people tended to do a pleasant double-take of his appearance. It was as though, united, his individual facial objects blended quite well, but divided, they seemed to pose quite another matter. »

In an imaginary country called Zimgania, leading a quiet life, Saga, the son of an ordinary family leading a quiet life, is living his typical adolescent experiences with his friends. However, when he sees his closed ones affected by the conflict and seriously threatened, he decides to join the resistance. When the government in power spreads fear throughout the country and students start to react against the oppression, his fight will take proportions that he would never have imagined.

In this satirical and witty novel, Dr Nat Tanoh gives a vivid picture of what young people’s life is like in oppressive regimes ; what their aspirations, dreams, leasure and fears are ; what, finally, their lives look like. The violence with which the political authority unfolds in everyday life and influences human relations makes Saga act.

In his first novel, Dr Nat Tanoh captures a modern, yet tense African world, in which coming of age is never easy ; becoming a man overnight is, therefore, not easy for Saga either, especially that love is an inevitable passage to adulthood. And love has Zara’s face, a beautiful, kind and witty image, but also a frightening one in a world in which nothing seems to be what is looks like.

It is in this world that Saga’s rite of passage occurs under the form of the resistance to an oppressive regime, but which is never totally shown in a dark or dramatic light. Laughter and puns, as well as dramatic scenes and conflicts, populate Tanoh’s novel to reveal a world much like our own, wherever it may be.

The Day of the Orphan by Dr Nat Tanoh

978- 1912145560/ Acorn Independent Press (25th May 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.