Co-wives, Co-widows by Adrienne Yabouza

Co-wives, Co-widows by Adrienne Yabouza

Central African Republic fiction

Original tilte – Co-épouses et co-veuves

Translator – Rachel McGill

Source – Personal copy

I saw this a few weeks ago it had passed me by when it came out last year I have read other books from the Dedalus African series. But when I saw it was the first book from the Central African Republic to be translated I knew I had to get it I am not in a rush to read every country in the world although it is something over time I want to complete I have a number of countries to go so this the second novel from Adrienne Yabouza a self-taught writer who has Feld her country because of the civil war. She worked as a hairdresser and has written since a young age she has also written books for kids this is her first book to be translated into English she has said Mariam Ba is an influence I reviewed a book by Ba 11 years ago and can see the connection as it was about   a woman whose husband has a second wife this book takes the two wives stories in a way it could be what happened next to that story.

For some reason, or no reason at all, Lidou felt a sudden pain in his chest. It was a burning kind of pain. It began to get worse. It travelled to his left arm. He dropped his radio on the floor. He tried to take deep breaths of the courtyard air, to flush away the pain, but the pain kept getting worse. He was panting now, his face contorted. He tried to call out, but his voice was weak and was drowned out by Flavour singing his hit song ‘Ashewo’, one time too many, on the radio. The four children Lidou had made with Grekpoubou were elsewhere, the son he’d given Ndongo Passy was probably still in bed. Yaché had gone out, to get her hair braided, perhaps.

The scene where he passes away little do they know what will follow this event.

The book focus on the aftermath of the death of Lidou the husband of both Ndongo Passsy and Grekpoubou the book shows how he spends time with each of the wives it is early on he grabs his chest and dies this throws the wives under the bus so to speak it turns out that his Estate is passed on to them this draws the two close as they start to fight for there world which because of the Patrica nature of the system they find them caught up to and the way those closes to Lidou have come and tried to take over his world apart from the wives so what we see is two women especially Ndongo who seems so empowered by this and takes Grekpoudou and draws the two into a sisterhood for there world. As they battle the corruption and legal world that sees them as surplus now he has died.

In PK 10, Poto-Poto neighbourhood, they were about to strike the linga drum to announce Lidou’s death.A wake was a grand occasion: people were already gathering, eager for the opportunity to let their tears flow in company. The tom-tom player began to beat out his rhythms. It was as if a termite
mound was emptying, as a whole silent population assembled in the compound.

They say that a truce should hold until the dead person is in the ground. Zouaboua didn’t care for that convention; he was already weighing up his options. He’d grown up with Lidou; they’d been like friends and brothers. If an inheritance could fill Zouaboua’s pockets, at least something good would’ve come from Lido’s death. Zouaboua had already made good progress in that direction: he wasn’t going to let a couple of gossiping wives stand in his way.

The vultures start before he is in the ground.

It is far to say I loved this it isn’t what I thought it would be which is maybe a criticism of polygamous marriages it isn’t actually at the heart of this is their world the two wives and how they are thrown together but there a connection to Lidou through marriage makes them more like sisters at times in the book. I said it was like Ba book which examined a husband who wants to take a second wife. This could be viewed as a tail end of that story in a way. What happens after that we get a glimpse into how he’d spend a night her and a night there but it also shows the corruption and how Patrica the world they live in still is. Whereas the family dynamics is deeply centred around the females. The two women are a sisterhood around Lidou. It also shows how death can leave a void and what happens when people try to grab what is left from those who should have it. An insight into death, being female, having a fellow wife and how you have to fight to get by when the male head of the house has died. how they became co-widows to keep their world alive. A great feel to the book I think Rachel has kept alive what is a book that mixes so many emotions sadness sorrow grief anger and humour all in one this has it all. Have you a favourite book from region of Africa?

Winstons score- A – has a little bit of everything `I look for in a book a village, family dynamics and also the political world it is set in.

 

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. tonymess12
    Sep 09, 2022 @ 10:43:43

    Chinua Achebe’s ‘Anthills of the Savannah’ always comes to mind when I’m asked about African literature.

    Reply

  2. Lisa Hill
    Sep 09, 2022 @ 23:48:28

    I thought of Mariam Ba immediately too, but it’s really good to have a contemporary book about this issue, because it still — after all this time — hasn’t gone away.
    A favourite book from Africa? Oh, that’s hard. I like everything I’ve read by Abdulrazak Gurnah (and I’d read him before he won the Nobel) but #BelieveItOrNot I’m going to suggest Malla Nunn’s Detective Emmanuel Cooper series. Nunn is a writer from Swaziland now living in Australia; she is one of the few writers of genre fiction I know whose books are really good reading. This series, and another book, Sugar Town Queens are set in pre- and post-democratic South Africa, and she does not whitewash reality.

    Reply

  3. Liz Dexter
    Sep 11, 2022 @ 17:16:38

    Oh, that sounds excellent, I’m adding it to my wishlist right away. I am reading more about and from Africa recently and it’s great more stuff is getting translated and published.

    Reply

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