So the path does not die by Pede Hollist

So the path does not die by Pede Hollist

Sierra Leone fiction

Source – review copy

One of the things I promised myself this year I would try and read a few more titles from around Africa, I have been buying and have been sent over the last few years. Pede Hollist is now based in the US as a professor of English at Tampa University. He is originally from Sierra Leone and has been shortlisted in the past for Caine prize and he has been included in a number of collections of Sierra Leone stories. His work focus on African Migration.

The shouts, wails, and curses heaped on her, her father , and her family ascend into the air.Finaba had heard them in the leaves and had seen them arrayed in the moonlight sky when she and Amadu emerged from the forest; and now, as she lay on the bare metal table of a disinfectant-laden examination roomin the chiefdom health clinic, they echoed in her head.

Just after the attempted FGM , she is already nearly an outcast because of it ina was called Finaba then.

This is an age-old story of the Journey from Africa to the US. We follow Fina a young woman, as we follow her life from her home in a village, where we see her just about to have an FGM, when she is taken away by her family and isn’t given the procedure, because of this she is stunned by the other people within her village. So they decide to move to the capital of Freetown Were she settles, but with the curse and past still in her mind.She soldiers on and manages to go to university and this enables another path to the US and a hope of a new life. She arrives and is successful but struggles to fit in again as she finds the world she lives in divide into Afro Americans, people from the Caribbean and then her group of people from Africa. She then begins to want to return home.She hs a finance but life is still strained for her.

For another few minutes neither spoke.Then, in a softer, less accusatory tone, Fina began again.”After college, I wamted so badly to get out of Sierra Leone to come and live here, where it wouldn’t ,atter what ethnic group i belonged to, whether I was a foster child, or that I was a woman”

She paused .Edna saind nothing

“Boy did I get that wrong! O just replaced the circles on my back tith ones that say Black, Afrcian and Foreign- no alien . Black and alen. Is this what life is all baout? running away from place to place trying to fit in, to belong

Fina struggles as her american dream crumbles as it is still about groups!!

This is an interesting insight into the story of being a fish out of the water all your life. from not having the brutal FGM procedure in her village that leads to being pushed out. To grow up in the capital with questions as to why they are there!  Then arriving and seeing the dark side of the American dream the way people divide themselves into where they are from still. Then we have the questions around FGM and how it is still acceptable in some villages and girls that opt not to have this awful procedure can be pushed out of their home and their own community and we see how this one act has a lasting effect on Fina and her life where she is a square peg trying to squeeze into the round hole. This has a feel of writers like Chinua Ahcibe especially the first part in the village has a similar feel to his writing. The cover for this hardback is very tactical.

 

 

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Winstonsdad’s Books of the year

Well it was a busy reading year if not reviewing year at winstonsdad I managed to read 128 books but as said yesterday managed to review a far fewer books so the ones I have chosen I have reviewed as well barring one .All the books this year are translations I have picked twelve in no particular order .

 

Farewell cowboy by Olja Savicevic – I met Olja this year her book follows a sister return to her home town in former Yugoslavia to find out what happened to him. We see how much the years she was away have effect her hometown and those she left behind.

Bridge over the Drina by Ivo Drina – Yugoslavia again and a vital crossing in the region is used as the cornerstone of a collection of stories through time. I found this was so forward-looking as the simmering undertensions that later erupted into the wars of the Balkans.

 

My documents by Alejandro Zambra – I had read his novels short books that lead me to think he would be a great short story writer. A collection that follows someones first days on a computer to footballing moments remembered from Chile’s past .

What became of the white savage by Francoise Garde – A lost gem of this year this prize winning french novel based on the real life tale of a french sailor who went native in the 18th century after his ship sank .What happens when you return to the world you left behind many years ago.

Street of thieves by Mathias Enard – A boys journey to manhood from Algeria to Europe as we see how he has to change to survive in the modern world .From the buds of the Arab spring to the wilting flowers of life on the streets of Barcelona .

Ventoux by Bert Wagendorp – Four friends go back to the great tour de France climb of Ventoux after twenty years and the loss of a friend on an earlier trip to the region. Funny and dark in places, I can’t wait to see the film of this one.

Fall of man in wimslow  by David Lagercrantz – The death of Alan Turing told by the detective investigating his death. The book before he took on the Milenium series .First of two books I connect with due to location in the top ten.

 

20150828_151617The illogic of Kassel by Enrique Vila- Matas – The story of when Enrique was asked to be an art piece sat in a chinese window in the city of Kassel for the Documenta. A city I spent time in years ago another connection to my own life .

 

The egghead republic by Arno Schimdt – I had long want to try Schimdt and strangely found an edition in my library system as a taster before his huge opus Zettels dreams is due out in English this year .This followed a reports trip to a strangely floating city of scientist .

Tram 83 FINAL FC

Tram 83 by Fiston Mwanza Mujilla – A city told through the eyes of two friends as civil war rages and diamonds, sex , people are sold nightly at the night club Tram 83 .A vibrant trip to Congo DR in a great debut novel .

 

Til kingdom comes by Andrej Nikoladis – I have met Andrej twice now this is the third book from him and also the one that features events of the first day I met him when we saw a man being photograph in Red lion square the home of Istros books. Part of the tale of a man uncovering the truth behind his parents .

 

Oh and the on I haven’t reviewed or finished –

wpid-20141120_101913.jpg

The epic Zibaldone by Gicamo Leopardi the notebooks of the Italian poet as he takes you through his thoughts of what he reads , thinks and every thing in his life from the origins of myths to Italian .I have been sipping this all year round. I will be reviewing this when I finish this masterpiece just say it is maybe the greatest book of its time.

 

So that is it ask me tomorrow it would be twelve  different books There have been some great  books this year .

 

Tram 83 by Fiston Mwanza Mujila

Tram 83 FINAL FC

I featured this in my cover shot post a couple of weeks ago of Tram 83  and said then I had this on my wish list since the US publisher Deep Vellum had brought this book out in the US> I was contact by Jazz the publicist for the uk publisher Jacaranda books a great new UK publisher doing a great selection of African books. Anyway what first caught my eye about this book was the quote this is a masterpiece by Alain Mabanckou, usually I don’t take much notice of quotes on cover but Alain Mabanckou has long been a favourite of  this blogger.

I was fortunate enough to read some of Fiston Mwanza Mujila’s poetry a few years back. I didn’t know at the time he was busy writing a novel, or for that matter the degree to which I would be moved by his new work and how each page would bring me so much joy. When I turned the last page I exclaimed: “This is a mastepiece”

From the forward by Alain Mabanckou

Tram 83 is maybe to me the book that seems to be what must be the chaos of post war DR Congo, well I say post war actually DR Congo or Zaire as it used to be called has been at war for most of the last half century and has had various names. What Fiston Mwanza Mujilla has captured here is what are the people who stay with in this chaos, why would you stay ? Well with the two main characters of this book Luicen the honest writer observing the world he lives in and his friend the darker survivor Requiem  who has had to learn to steal and trick to get by in this world. I was so remind in this two of the classic dickens pairing of Oliver twist and the Artful dodger, there is no Fagin in this story unless we see Tram 83 and all its sins as a metaphoric Fagin.

Tram 83 was one of the most popular restaurants and hooker bars, its renown stretching beyond the city-states borders.”see tram 83 and die,” was the refrain of the tourist who blew into town from the four corners of the globe to conduct their business during the day they wandered zombie-like through the mining concessions they owned by the dozen, and at night ended up in Tram 83 to refresh their memory. This gave the place every appearence of true theater, if not a massive circus. Here’s the kind of thing you might hear as background noise:

“I want ti massage you by way of foreplay, then slowly suck you off,suck your whole body,suckyou till my mouth runs dry”

I feel this paints a great picture of Tram 83 and the people who use and work there.

Tram 83 the heart of this book is one of those ramshackle clubs, I was reminded of the club Michael Palin visit a club in pole to pole a ramshackle place full of the city, like this club The club reflects the needs of the men in a way of this world loose women, easy drink and drugs. Also the way these people are trying to tear apart the world outside their door that is the sheer wealth of minerals that are available we often hear the terms Conflict or blood diamonds but now we see the real cost of ripping the heart of Africa out. What fills the vacuum of a lawless world where Police and state have failed well the characters in this book and who else well are two lead characters.

There are cities which don’t need literature: they are literature. They files past, chest thrust out, head on their shoulders. They are proud and full of confidence despite the garbage bags they cart around. The city-state, an example among so many others – she pulsated with literature.

“I love you, baby”

“I don’t like foreplay, it kills the pleasure ”

“Do you have the time ?”

The city-state was written by her gigolos,her baby chicks, her diggers, her four star whore house, her dissident rebels ready to imprison you,her prospectors,her semi-tourist.Lucien rushwed into the nnight, his imitation-leather bag slung across his body.

I loved this chapter opening about the city of Lubumbashi the city state setting of the book .

The book has a poetic tone, I search for info about Fiston and found out he was a poet before he wrote this his first novel. The style of writing reminds me of how you may rift on styles there is many mentions of Jazz on the cover and in reviews, but for me this is more what great hip hop does and that is rift on everything the heart of Congo music is Soukous, those string lead rifts of singers like Pape Wemba, I picture the kids of Fiston generations drawing on this to make it the heart of their hip hop and maybe Fiston is drawing on this himself the soulful voice of Soukos through modern artist like Werrason has become a voice of modern DR Congo. I also have never fully got Jazz.

DR congo fiction

Translator – Roland Glasser

Source – Review copy

Have you a favourite African book set during a civil war ?

 

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