Fiction

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 A Review of Whitefly

By Tọ́pẹ́ Salaudeen-Adégòkè


  • Title: Whitefly
  • Author: Abdelilah Hamdouchi
  • Translator: Jonathan Smolin 
  • 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 Eating the Rich: A Review of Nkosinathi Sithole’s Hunger Eats a Man

By Richard Oduor Oduku


  • Title: Hunger Eats a Man
  • Author: Nkosinathi Sithole
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (South Africa)
  • Number of pages: 166
  • Year of publication: 2015
  • Category: Fiction

Hunger Eats a Man is a story of the grim, riotous cycle of poverty and hopelessness, violence and oppression, lying gods and ancestors, and the necessity of political revolutions. The novel is set in Ndlalidlindoda – a sprawling geography of destitution in Gxumani near Drakensberg mountains. More…

image Of Paths and Destiny: A Review of Bizuum Yadok’s King of the Jungle

By Su’eddie Vershima Agema


  • Title: King of the Jungle
  • Author: Bizuum Yadok
  • Publisher: Kraftgriots
  • Number of pages: 271
  • Year of publication: 2014
  • Category: Fiction

The path of one’s life is inscribed on one’s palms. It is not in the crooked lines but in how such a person decides to use their palms: to work, to be soothing or to be violent. This largely goes to say that the fate of everyone lies in the decisions they make. This principle underlies the tale that is Bizuum Yadok’s King of the Jungle. King of the Jungle is a tale seen through the eyes of two brothers. The author brings the nature/nurture question to the fore in this work, highlighting in great detail the birth and growth of the two brothers and what they become. More…

image To Do a Person’s Work: A Review of Boy, Interrupted

By Tunji Olalere


  • Title: Boy, Interrupted
  • Author: Saah Millimono
  • Publisher: Kwani Trust
  • Number of pages: 150
  • Year of publication: 2014
  • Category: Fiction

‘SBU da Small Boy Unit, the albino said. Today we na bring dem wif us. You say yor son da twelve year ol, but wait until you see seven-year-ol boys in deh SBU’

There are many absurdities in life. Love in a time of war, for example. Nobel peace medals on the chests of warlords or commanders of drone attacks or financiers of genocide. What about dynamite? Do not ask. More…

image Breaking the Cryptex: A Review of H J Golakai’s The Score

By Uchenna Ekweremadu


  • Title: The Score
  • Author: H J Golakai
  • Publisher: Kwela Books
  • Number of pages: 376
  • Year of publication: 2015
  • Category: Fiction

Every day, we hear or read about employers ‘actively poaching’ stars from their rivals. Should these employers grow weary of their new hires shortly after taking them on, they begin assigning them either impossible tasks or, paradoxically, unchallenging ones, all in order to get them to quit by their own volition. But in The Score, what starts out as a ploy to frustrate the protagonist, Voinjama (Vee) Johnson, ends up making her more valuable. More…

image The Ghosts of 1894: Revisiting the Rwandan Genocide

By Emeka Ugwu


  • Title: The Ghosts of 1894
  • Author: Oduor Jagero
  • Publisher: KoaMedia
  • Number of pages: 254
  • Year of publication: 2015
  • Category: Fiction

‘What happened in Rwanda happened to us all – humanity was wounded by the genocide’. – Immaculée Ilibagiza, Rwandan author

‘The Rwandan Liberation Front, Tutsi-dominated, has demonstrated that its cadres are not above acts of vengeance. A vicious cycle is the inevitable legacy of generations yet unborn’. – The Open Sore of a Continent, Wole Soyinka

In The Ghosts of 1894, Oduor Jagero does not only revisit the scene of what is perhaps Africa’s most brutal event of human rights violation, he also examines its root causes. It is a tragic story told mostly through the eyes of the characters Habineza, Vestine and Sandra, survivors of the Rwandan genocide. Given the novel’s title, students of African history will instantly deduce that the book fingers 1894 – the year in which explorers led by the German Count Gustav Adolf von Gotzen set foot in Rwanda – as the exact point in history when the country’s ghosts came into being. More…