image Of Tragedy and Comedy: A Review of Youssef Fadel’s A Beautiful White Cat Walks with Me

By Nureni Ibrahim 


  • Title: A Beautiful White Cat Walks with Me
  • Author: Youssef Fadel
  • Translator: Alexander E Elinson
  • Publisher: Hoopoe
  • Number of pages: 220
  • Year of publication: 2016
  • Category: Fiction

‘The production and consumption of text and discourse serve particular purposes. Apart from aesthetic ones, which are studied in poetics and stylistics, texts represent social values and traditions and relate to ideological positions [which] originate in extra-textual structures of reality and society’. – The Taming of the Text, Willie Van Peer

It goes without saying that the discourse of literature cannot be divorced from the discourse of the ideological constructs that shape or instruct the writer’s art. Every literary work is an attempt or a medium of expressing the socio-political and historical challenges of the society. In the discussion of North African literature, Sonallah Ibrahim, Waguih Ghali, Miral al-Tahawy, Tawfiq al-Hakim and Youssef Fadel are writers who reflect the social and political conditions of society in artistic works. In this regard, A Beautiful White Cat Walks with Me, written by Casablanca-native and novelist Youssef Fadel, could be read as illuminating the inhumanity of the war between Morocco and Western Sahara. More…

image A Vet Doctor Lives Here

By Vuyo Mzini


  • Title: Sounds of Joy
  • Author: Segun Akinlolu
  • Publisher: EniObanke Books
  • Number of pages: 344
  • Year of publication: 2018
  • Category: Autobiography

Segun Akinlolu is a jack of all trades. Known to fans of his music and poetry as Beautiful Nubia, the man counts music as his first love. This is despite the fact that he has spent a major part of the half century of his life engaged in almost everything but music. He is a historian who reads extensively about Nigeria’s pre- and post-colonial past. He is a writer of fiction and poetry. He has four published collections and three recordings of poetry readings. He is a qualified veterinary doctor. He has also been a salesman of veterinary products, a journalist and a worker in the factory of a Canadian sweet manufacturer. What he is known and loved for though is his music. He is a songwriter and singer of original compositions of Nigerian folk music, with twenty-three recorded albums. The autobiography, Sounds of Joy, performs an exhaustive and sometimes exhausting task of casting a light on all the nooks and crannies of Akinlolu’s life. More…

image If Your Neighbour Is Not Happy, There Is No Way You Can Be at Peace

By Tọ́pẹ́ Salaudeen-Adégòkè


  • Title: Mama Mudu’s Children: A South African Post-Freedom Tragi-Comedy
  • Author: Masitha Hoeane
  • Publisher: African Perspectives Publishing
  • Number of pages: 88
  • Year of publication: 2017
  • Category: Drama

The title of this review borrows from the cardinal message in the refrain of ‘The Path’, a song by the Nigerian folklorist, Beautiful Nubia. It is also the exigent message of the play Mama Mudu’s Children: A South African Post-Freedom Tragi-Comedy by Masitha Hoeane, which is a problem play set against the backdrop of xenophobia and the disintegration of those communal values that make up Ubuntu. On the book’s front cover, there is a sprawling shanty township and what seems to be a mob, or demonstrators, under two different banners: ‘Edladleni Hill’ and ‘Xenophobia’, with a faint spiral of smoke in the background, everything depicted in sharp monochrome. This is both an ironic take on the notion of the rainbow nation and an example of a random township in South Africa. More…

image Nigerium: An Inevitable End

By Munah Nicola Tarpeh


  • Title: We Won’t Fade into Darkness
  • Author: T J Benson 
  • Publisher: Parrésia Publishers Ltd
  • Number of pages: 138
  • Year of publication: 2018
  • Category: Fiction

‘Gone are the days when people set up their own business for personal gain and profit, the business of a dying world is survival. Now we all work to save our nation from extinction’.

We Won’t Fade into Darkness is a dark, haunting collection of short stories about a post-apocalyptic Nigeria, where the air is impregnated with a poisonous gas called Nigerium that causes sperm cells to rot and kills people. It is a place so bleak, so disaster-struck that people are reduced to the most basic versions of themselves, with the instincts for self-preservation, sex, hunger, the desire to wander and death dictating the terms of existence. More…

image Identity in Fishere’s Embrace on Brooklyn Bridge

By Ofuonyeadi Chukwudumebi Mercy


  • Title: Embrace on Brooklyn Bridge
  • Author: Ezzedine C Fishere
  • Translator: John Peate
  • Publisher: Hoopoe
  • Number of pages: 163
  • Year of publication: 2017
  • Category: Fiction

Embrace on Brooklyn Bridge is beautifully told. It opens on the eve of Salma’s twenty-first birthday dinner. Her grandfather, Professor Darwish, an academic in the US, has spent two weeks planning the event and inviting friends from far and wide to help mark it. He also wants to use the occasion to explain why he has suddenly retired from the university, after twenty-five years, and why he has sold his house. Although an Egyptian by birth, he thinks little of his culture and its fanatics, preferring life in the US. To him, it is insane for anyone to compare the two countries. More…

image Fragments We Can Barely Piece Together

By Timi Odueso


  • Title: Cigarette Number Seven
  • Author: Donia Kamal
  • Translator: Nariman Youssef
  • Publisher: Hoopoe
  • Number of pages: 191
  • Year of publication: 2018
  • Category: Fiction

‘Nothing lies between us and happiness but the demons that lie between us’. – Naguib Mahfouz

Translated into English by Nariman Youssef, Cigarette Number Seven is set in Cairo and alternates between the past and the present. Although it is largely centred on the events of the Egyptian revolution in early 2011, it employs the use of flashback to highlight the journey of the protagonist and how she finds herself. More…

image The Girl Who Refused to Inherit Her Mother’s Silence

By Ayodele Ibiyemi 


  • Title: The Open Door
  • Author: Latifa al-Zayyat
  • Translator: Marilyn Booth
  • Publisher: Hoopoe
  • Number of pages: 383
  • Year of publication: 2017
  • Category: Fiction

The Open Door begins with a protest by young Egyptians against the monarchy in which Mahmud Sulayman is injured. His parents are apprehensive but proud of his actions. His sister, Layla, is excited and announces to her school friends that, ‘The English got him. They hit him because he is a nationalist. Because he is a hero’ (p 7). However, when another protest breaks out and she, too, is moved to participate, her scandalised father beats her while her mother laments that she has brought shame on the family. More…

image Who Is to Blame?

By Omotola Otubela


  • Title: Bled Dry
  • Author: Abdelilah Hamdouchi
  • Translator: Benjamin Smith
  • Publisher: Hoopoe
  • Number of pages: 242
  • Year of publication: 2017
  • Category: Fiction

In Abdelilah Hamdouchi’s Bled Dry, everyone is a suspect. Born in Meknes, Morocco, Abdelilah Hamdouchi is one of the first writers of police fiction in the Arabic language. Set in Casablanca, Morocco, Bled Dry was originally written in Arabic before it was translated into English by Benjamin Smith. Unlike the author’s previous books – which touched on issues surrounding migration and manipulations in international trade, Whitefly (2016), and false conviction and police brutality, The Final Bet (2016)Bled Dry digs into the minds as well as the actions and inaction of people who live in the slums of Casablanca. Here, the notion that every individual is a product of the society in which they live is effectively scrutinised. More…

image Tales of the African Experience

By Nureni Ibrahim 


  • Title: The Sea Has Drowned the Fish
  • Editors: Mamle Kabu and Martin Egblewogbe
  • Publisher: Techmate Publishers and Writers Project of Ghana
  • Number of pages: 257
  • Year of publication: 2018
  • Category: Fiction

The Sea Has Drowned the Fish is an anthology of short stories by budding and established African writers. It is the output of the Writers Project of Ghana and has some breathtaking works from familiar names such as Mary Ashun, Yewande Omotoso and Eghosa Imasuen. The writers explore a range of themes, including African culture, racial discrimination, apartheid, land alienation, political disillusionment, class struggle, love, homosexuality, sexual harassment and cultural displacement. More…

image We Need New Voices

By Veronica Elias Ugian


  • Title: The Rally
  • Author: Akanji Nasiru
  • Publisher: Kraft Books Limited
  • Number of pages: 124
  • Year of publication: 2018
  • Category: Drama

The Rally by Akanji Nasiru seeks to analyse the impact of the social injustices that have resulted in the enslavement of Africans by their fellow Africans and prevented Nigeria from attaining meaningful development. The play, which is divided into four episodes, is a political satire that examines the fight for change in an underdeveloped community held hostage by a cantankerous elite. The underlying tensions in the community are heightened by the struggle of youths who have learnt the ways of political justice and would like to see it in their community. More…