image The Fishermen, a Nationalist Reading

By Kwabena Agyare Yeboah


  • Title: The Fishermen
  • Author: Chigozie Obioma
  • Publisher: Cassava Republic Press
  • Number of pages: 301
  • Year of publication: 2015
  • Category: Fiction

One day in the lives of four brothers, the eldest, Ikenna, comes home with an announcement stuck in his pocket. He assembles the rest of his brothers. His voice clean and shiny, he says to them that they would become fishermen. They would ply their trade in the Omi-Ala River. The river has seen great years. Once the source of life for the early settlers of Akure, the combined effect of modernity and time has rendered it useless, ‘A cradle besmeared’ (p 21). At the riverbank, they meet Abulu, a man who is equally gifted with seeing and insanity. His prophecy will bind and break the brothers. Their career will last nearly six weeks but they will bear the name – The Fishermen – for life. More…

image Hustling for Discourse: Between Sociology, Psychology and Literature

By Tomiwa Ilori


  • Title: The Peculiars
  • Author: Jen Thorpe
  • Publisher: Penguin Random House South Africa (Pty) Ltd
  • Number of pages: 243
  • Year of publication: 2016
  • Category: Fiction

The vocabulary of psychiatry became expanded when psychoanalysis and its study occurred as social challenge then later as social experiment. It has since become almost impossible to view mental well-being in isolation from other social attitudes. One of these attitudes considers those afflicted with mental illness as having their own way of perceiving the world, a way that is more interesting than the competing belief that organised society is the real world. More…

image Piggy Boy’s Blues: Why Memories Wear Make-up

By Tinuke Adeyi


  • Title: Piggy Boy’s Blues
  • Author: Nakhane Touré
  • Publisher: BlackBird Books
  • Number of pages: 156
  • Year of publication: 2015
  • Category: Fiction

‘The novel is an event in consciousness. Our aim isn’t to copy actuality, but to modify and recreate our sense of it. The novelist is inviting the reader to watch a performance in his own brain’. – George Buchanan

There are no perfect moments, the saying goes, only perfect memories. But what is a perfect memory? Do humans actually remember events exactly as they happened or do they simply recreate emotions that past events elicited? Can the entities we call memories be ‘perfect’ in being true to actual events or are they no more than lies we tell ourselves so we do not catch an honest whiff of our own smells? Have we merely become perfect at recreating the emotions we want attached to memories? More…

image The Many Shades of Water

By Tolu Akinwole


  • Title: Water: New Short Fiction from Africa
  • Editors: Nick Mulgrew and Karina Szczurek
  • Publisher: Short Story Day Africa
  • Number of pages: 272
  • Year of publication: 2015
  • Category: Fiction

‘He sat by Lake Retba knowing its every shift of colour. Mauve, lavender-pink at dusk, magenta at dawn and crayon-pink during the day’. – Efemia Chela, ‘The Lake Retba Murder’ (p 24)

The twenty-one stories that make up Water: New Short Fiction from Africa acquit themselves as articulate contributions to the (re-)negotiation of a place of pride for African literature in English, each of the stories deftly exploiting the complex configuration of the thematic focus of the anthology. These twenty-one brilliant writers attempt to problematise the seemingly bland, colourless liquid that nurtures life, to discover within its essence the many shades and hues of the turbulent existence of the humans it nurtures. The stories in this volume engage the reader on many levels. The reader travels from the familiar present to the blurry past and even to the inaccessible possible-future. This fine blend makes for an enjoyable voyage through the entire landscape of the African story. More…

image A Review of Zakes Mda’s Little Suns

By Troy Onyango


  • Title: Little Suns
  • Author: Zakes Mda
  • Publisher: Umuzi
  • Number of pages: 269
  • Year of publication: 2015
  • Category: Fiction

‘There’s a new sun every day. It rises in the east and crawls across the sky until it hides itself behind those mountains in the west’ – Malangana

History and love gel incredibly in Zakes Mda’s latest novel, Little Suns. It is an extraordinary tale of love between Malangana (literally translates as ‘Little Suns’) and Mthwakazi. Malangana is an amaMpondomise man who apart from grooming the king’s horse is also the king’s translator and adviser. He is the king’s half-brother from a smaller house. Mthwakazi is a woman from the abaThwa community who serves as a nurse to the queen. Zakes Mda narrates the story of a love that is gained and lost in a rather pointless war, like all wars, over the span of more than twenty years (1880–1904). More…

image African Book Critics’ List 2016

Wawa Book Review focuses on the outputs of African publishers, aiming to provide excellent commentary on books published on the continent and to give feedback to publishers, editors, authors and translators. For 2016, our critics have selected a list of thirteen books that we consider fine literature in six categories – Children, Drama, Fiction, History, Poetry and Young Adult. The books on the African Book Critics’ List 2016 were published in seven countries – Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa. The list, with book titles in alphabetical order: More…

image A Bride’s Mother’s Cry

By Dami Ajayi


  • Title: Now the World Takes These Breaths
  • Author: Joan Metelerkamp
  • Publisher: Modjaji Books
  • Number of pages: 61
  • Year of publication: 2014
  • Category: Poetry

To the uninitiated, the poetry of Joan Metelerkamp has an unnerving effect. For the reader who comes to her body of work through Now the World Takes These Breaths, her eight collection, it may feel like coming too late to a wedding party, and little is known or reported on the continent about this foremost South African poet, who has been publishing volumes of poetry since 1992. More…

image When to Write about Yourself

By Agbonmire Ifeh


  • Title: To Quote Myself
  • Author: Khaya Dlanga
  • Publisher: Pan Macmillan South Africa
  • Number of pages: 208
  • Year of publication: 2015
  • Category: Memoir

Khaya Dlanga is neither a persecuted writer nor is he an African leader of some repute. He has never been to prison like Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o or Wole Soyinka. He is not a glorious leader like Nelson Mandela or Obafemi Awolowo, so what gives him the afflatus to undertake the lofty goal of writing a memoir in the prime of his life? More…

image A Review of Whitefly

By Tọ́pẹ́ Salaudeen-Adégòkè


  • Title: Whitefly
  • Author: Abdelilah Hamdouchi
  • Publisher: Hoopoe
  • Number of pages: 136
  • Year of publication: 2016
  • Category: Fiction

Whitefly is crime fiction set in Morocco. This book by Abdelilah Hamdouchi, first published as al-Dhubaba al-bayda and translated from the Arabic to English as Whitefly by Jonathan Smolin, is a work of significance being that a writer from the Arab world, from the Maghreb precisely, is writing in the crime fiction genre. The book also defies the saying in the Arab book industry that ‘Cairo writes, Beirut publishes and Baghdad reads’ by showing that many writers from other parts of the Arab world are making significant breakthroughs. More…

image Igbobi Boy: The Crisis of Education in Nigeria

By Emeka Ugwu


  • Title: Igbobi Boy
  • Author: Adebayo Lamikanra
  • Publisher: Amkra Books
  • Number of pages: 307
  • Year of publication: 2014
  • Category: Memoir

‘[T]he ‘default setting’ of nine out of ten is primordial, no doubt. But as W E B DuBois says, we are after the talented tenth’. – Tade Ipadeola

‘Traditions are extremely difficult to establish and more difficult to maintain because once they begin to unravel, the whole edifice comes crashing down and is lost without a trace within a short period of time’. – Adebayo Lamikanra

Adebayo Lamikanra’s Igbobi Boy would appeal to any dyed-in-the-wool rascal. To be certain, Igbobi Boy is more than a delicately written story about life as a student at the elite, missionary secondary school, Igbobi College in the ‘60s. It is also a book that draws considerable attention to the hapless state of Nigeria’s dysfunctional education system. The book challenges the unfounded notion that quality education in Nigeria only began a nosedive from the mid-’80s. More…