Fiction

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 Cutting Culture Off: A Review of Mary Karooro Okurut’s The Switch

By Timi Odueso


  • Title: The Switch
  • Author: Mary Karooro Okurut
  • Publisher: FEMRITE Publications Limited
  • Number of pages: 211
  • Year of publication: 2016
  • Category: Fiction

‘Culture can be the worst form of imprisonment’. – Dr Medard

Mary Karooro Okurut’s The Switch contains numerous exhilarating elements but first and foremost is the intensity and intrigue the first few pages offer. The suspense, right from the first few pages, is reminiscent of a thriller novel. Readers will feel the same impending sense of danger they feel in reading prolific thriller writers like James Patterson, John Grisham or Nora Roberts, and although The Switch is not a crime thriller or a mystery novel per se, it still, heavily so, employs elements from those sub-genres and that gives it a unique style. In fact, the style of writing and the elements involved are so unusual for books with the same or similar themes as The Switch that the effect is pleasantly surprising. More…

image People of the Book: A Review of Diary of a Jewish Muslim

By Ona Akinde 


  • Title: Diary of a Jewish Muslim 
  • Author: Kamal Ruhayyim 
  • Translator: Sarah Enany
  • Publisher: The American University in Cairo Press
  • Number of pages: 240
  • Year of publication: 2014
  • Category: Fiction

In the first half of the twentieth century, there were thousands of Jews living in Egypt. With the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, their lives in Egypt became increasingly difficult and many emigrated to Europe. Not only did the war have an effect on the status of things in reality, it led to a great absence of Arab Jews in African literature in Arabic. Kamal Ruhayyim, through his novels, tells stories that place Arab Jews not just at the centre of the novels, but as part of the fabric of Arab communities. More…

image Everything to See

By Omotola Otubela


  • Title: Nothing to See Here
  • Editor: Hilda Twongyeirwe
  • Publisher: FEMRITE Publications Limited
  • Number of pages: 283
  • Year of publication: 2015
  • Category: Fiction

Nothing to See Here is an anthology that comprises sixteen short stories by sixteen African women writers. One can think of it as a box containing cupcakes of different flavours, with the flavours representing the different subject matters addressed by these stories. The icing on these cupcakes is the biographies of the authors at the end of the book. The bird perched on a wire on the book cover depicts the perspectives of not only the writers as they address certain issues but also of the readers as they perceive these stories. More…

image Appraising the Bliss of Innocence

By Ayodele Ibiyemi 


  • Title: Deserted
  • Author: Bob G Kisiki
  • Publisher: Rhema Books
  • Number of pages: 218
  • Year of publication: 2016
  • Category: Fiction

For Uganda, long years of dictatorship seem to have affected the volume of literature produced, which in any case focuses heavily on politics in the way South Africans focused on apartheid. Bob Kisiki, with four published novels, cannot be called a new author even though he does not enjoy the continent-wide fame that some of his contemporaries do. A complete man of the arts, he also writes songs, plays and newspaper columns, as well as short stories and poems. More…