Welcome to my corner of the internet. So glad you made it here. I can`t believe I am on edition four of book tales. November has been one of the busiest months for me this year but I am glad that I still got to read four books. In case you are new here, Book tales is a space I created to share my thoughts on the books I am reading each month. I have so far run three editions: August, September, and October.
In November I read some amazing books that had been on my TBR list for a while. Each book reinforced Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi`s quote, ` Stories have such power you cannot imagine.”
Here are my November reads;
Moonscapes: Short Stories and Poetry (African Writers Trust 2016)
As previously mentioned here, I love anthologies. They are a good deal, buy one and get so many stories free. With Moonscapes, I read about stories of war, sex education and pulling (do you know what pulling is?), religion vs African tradition, cross-generational sex, and marriage, loss, infidelity, sex myths, issues with the Ugandan education system, and enigmatic poetry. The anthology offers a wide array of topics and I am convinced you will find a story or poem that tells your story in detail.
Whispers from Vera (Monitor Publications LTD. 2002)
Whispers from Vera is witty and humorous from beginning to end. Vera is writing to someone and has the urgency to get straight to the point since she can`t get a hold of the person she is writing to. Vera whispers about marriage-the joys and trials, sexual discovery, career pursuit vs the expectations of society on a woman, traditional expectations of a man and woman vis a vis family, finances, sisterhood and so much more.
I laughed with Vera and felt part of her sisterhood. I was the silent guest at every conversation. I loved that she spoke bluntly about her life. She didn`t try to fit into a mold created for the Ugandan woman. She enjoyed sex and talked about it; she said yes to career advancement. She said no to the emotional guilt trip from people around her. But most importantly, she said yes to being a woman who can have it all.
Honestly, I loved this book. It was all-encompassing and liberating. Vera`s whispers resounded loud like a church bell.
Foreign Gods, Inc by Okey Ndibe (Soho Press, Inc 2014)
Foreign Gods, Inc tells the story of Ike, a New York-based Nigerian cab driver who is highly educated but because of his “accent,’’ he can`t make it into corporate America. He sets out to steal Ngene`s statue from his village of Utonki. He plans to sell the statute and get a lot of money that will solve all his problems and those of his family members. When I was reading the book, I couldn`t wait to see how Ike steals the statute from the shrine, how he gets it to America, and how much he would get for it.
The story reveals how desperate we are as a people to trade our African culture for what the white man has to offer. The stench it leaves when it all said and done is unbearable. What a price to pay for the loss of our culture. The story also explores deep themes that are intricately etched into the lives of Africans on the continent and diaspora.
The Joys of Motherhood by Buchi Emecheta (Heinemann African Writers Series)
Buchi gives the changes that happened to the traditional culture of the people of Ibuza and Nigeria at large through Nnu Ego. The contention between the older generation with cultural beliefs and traditions so strong versus the new generation that wanted more out of life and wouldn`t conform to the standards of the past. They were moving forward like their Nigeria which was set to get independence.
It was believed that a woman had to be married off to a man whom her people chose for her, whether she liked him or not. And her major role was to bear children(boys) for her husband. Boys were a preferred sex than girls. A woman with only girls was reminded of being insignificant as opposed to one with boys.
Society was unfair to the woman that by the end of the book, I was weeping. I kid you not. I was angry that Nnu Ego for all her joys of motherhood, missed out on LIVING. Nothing much has changed in the 21st century, women are still trying to put off the expectations society has heaped on them; fight the patriarchy, fight for a seat at the table. Fight, fight, fight.
An excerpt from the book summarizes my thoughts.
“She had been brought to believe that children made a woman. She had children, nine in all, and luckily seven were alive, much more than many women of that period could boast of. Most of her friends and colleagues had buried more children than they had alive; but her god had been merciful to her. Still, how was she to know that by the time her children grew up to the values of her country, her people and her tribe would have changed so drastically, to the extent where a woman with many children could face an old age alone, just like a barren woman? She was not even certain that worries over her children would not send her to her grave before her chi was ready for her.
Nnu Ego told herself that she would have been better off had she had time to cultivate those women who had offered her hands of friendship; but she had never had time. What with worrying over this child, this pregnancy, and the lack of money, coupled with the fact that she never had adequate outfits to wear to visit her friends, she had shied away from friendship, telling herself she did not need any friends, she had enough in her family. But had she been right?
In Buchi Emecheta`s words, “I created a woman, Nnu Ego, who gave all her energy, all her money and everything she had to raise her kids…. She was so busy doing all this that she had no time to cultivate any friends among her own sex.’’ Nnu Ego lived for her children because that is what society taught her but she never lived for herself. Years, later and women are still trapped in this predicament.
This book is a must read.
Would you read any of the books mentioned here?