‘Whether you’re an awkward black girl or an irritated disabled stripper, everyone should have the opportunity to feel represented in some way.’ – Issa Rae
‘Privilege comes in many forms, and being popular is one of them.’ – Luvvie Ajayi
After about four months of barely reading anything I’m finally back on my usual routine of actually completing a book before an entire month expires. With time I’ll soon be back on the one book per two weeks steeze too – watch this space. But I digress…
Can you say hibernation??? Or hermit? Because that is exactly what I have been for the past two months – a hermit in hibernation. Sorry for the long silence but I was in full on study mode getting my dissertation done. I have done nothing but write, design, research, write and design some more for eight weeks straight. I’m finally done though, submitted my project yesterday and now I don’t know what to do with myself haha.
My last review of the year is here and of course it had to be a book by Chimamanda Adichie! She is after all only one of my favourite authors of all time but I digress. Some of you (read my friend Mumbe) may be wondering why it took me so long to finally read this book. In all honesty, I actually never paid it any attention. Well not until I started getting into a lot of African literature reading earlier this year. I had already read all of Adichie’s other books before this year began but since this was her very first novel, decided to finally give it a chance this year. I’m really glad I did.
Been a minute fellow bookworms!
Today’s review will be a tad different as I am reviewing my very first poetry book. And not only is it a poetry book filled the most amazing collection of modern day poetry but it just so happens to be written and published by one of my favourite bloggers turned friend, Abigail Arunga
Akello is the title of this anthology. For those not familiar with the Kenyan culture, Akello is a name that comes from one of our many tribes, luo to be exact and it means to bring forth. Miss Akello for sure brought forth some amazing pieces in this book I must say.
The backstory to how I met Abigail is quite a weird yet funny story actually. She doesn’t know all this either but she will as soon as she reads this. I met her at a club, Mercury at the Junction Mall to be exact. So I’m at the club with my best friend Sonnie, her boyfriend and his friends… I’m having tea (don’t ask why) and just chatting and I see Abi walk in with her friends. I already knew her by face having followed her blog religiously since my uni days – I know I sound like a stalker, please don’t report me. I told my friend about her and how I had been looking for her new book for so long but couldn’t find it and she prompted me to go up to Abi and say hi but for those who don’t know me… I am very very shy. I couldn’t do it. So I just said I’d tweet her the next day that I spotted her.
So as we were leaving Mercury for Qz, guess who was outside the club taking a breather? Abi! I don’t know what made me do it but I just went up to her and said hi, told her I’m a huge fan, told her we were twitter friends and that I really want to buy her book but couldn’t find it. Abi for some reason, just had a bunch of copies with her – in her bag – in a nightclub. So not only did I get the book I had been looking for for ages, but I got a signed copy and got a meet & greet with author all in one night. Talk about a turn of events. The rest of my night went amazingly after that encounter, so Abi, thank you. You were my lucky charm that night and to repay you, here is a review of what is one of the best anthologies I have ever read.
I’m not going to talk about my favourite poems in this book so as not to make this review ridiculously long. Abi basically compiled most of the poems she had written while still in school and after school and I must say, that’s quite a collection she had. Her writing is raw, open, deep and yet straight to the point with hints of humour here and there and bits of emotional spells in each piece making you learn her as a person, a writer, as a woman, a lover, a sister and a friend.
I related to most of the poems in this book because I started reading it at a time when I wasn’t feeling at my best and I was in such a dark space. The poems brought back some memories I had locked away for a long while… Her words, her feelings, her thoughts touch the reader with an intensity like no other. I’m not sure how else I can explain it. Some poems were a tad bit graphic but hey… if that’s your style Abi, I’m not judging.
I’m going to conclude by copying one of my favourite poems off this book below; if you want a taste of some raw, beautiful poetry – get a copy of Akello for you and yours, you will not be disappointed.
how to bare my heart
so that you can touch my vulnerability
with your lips
and I won’t cringe under the
spotlight of honesty
and your lips will stay.”
Until next time, Happy reading!
P.S: To get a copy of the book please go to www.akello.co.ke
So it has been one super long minute!!!!!
Too long. I have been on a rollercoaster ride called life this past month and a half and slowly getting myself back to normal aka letting my feet touch the ground. That is a story for another day though. Today being Tuesday is time for yet another riveting book review:)
The Spider King’s Daughter by Chibundu Onuzo
What exactly can I say about this book? Well it started out great I can tell you that much. Chibundu really knows how to reel in her audience but what she lacks is how to keep the same audience captivated, to keep them turning pages and intrigued as opposed to exhausted by the dragging story line. This is exactly how I felt by the time I was finally done with the book… exhausted. And frankly glad to be done with it. Sad thing is I wasn’t expecting my thoughts on the book to be like that when I was basically halfway through it. This could be a case of the author having a certain page # quota to fulfill and that could explain why 286 pages felt like 486 pages instead.
I may have my own biased opinions to this novel but there are some good parts to it. The story revolves around two characters, Abike Johnson, a rich teenage girl living the lavish life in Lagos thanks to her wealthy father, and a lowly hawker, whose name we only know as ‘Runner G’ as his real name is not mentioned anywhere throughout the novel. We are introduced to Lagos, Nigeria in two different views; the wealthy upper class view and the poverty, low class view.
Abike buys an icecream from the hawker one day and she is intrigued by him. Especially by his ability to speak articulately which isn’t common among hawkers on the street. From the first interaction the hawker and Abike form an instant connection. A trippy romance between them follows and we get to see their thoughts and feelings played out in two different narrations from both of them. Further along in the story we learn how the hawker’s past is connected to Abike’s through her wealthy murderer of a father. The story then turns into a love story turned revenge tale in just but a few chapters.
One thing I like about Chibundu’s writing, despite the slow pace of the storyline, it still had its major twists and turns that gave the story that extra oomph. Her description of rich Lagos compared with poor Lagos really reminded me about the similar divide we have between the rich and the poor here in Nairobi and made me wonder if at all a wealthy teenage girl would ever give a hawker a second look and befriend him. Sadly the story became more and more unbelievable as the book progressed hence my frustration in completing it forcefully. As the plot thickened and FINALLY unfolded I was already uninterested and was just completing it for the sake of writing a review on it. If Chibundu had just stuck to the romance story of it all and left out all the politics, I think it would have made for a much more interesting story line.
I love my African authors, I really do but sorry Chibundu, this time an African author did not really wow me. I give her a 4 out of 10. I could have given 5 just because I enjoyed the first half of the book but half commendations shouldn’t really be given if half the story made a reader lose interest.
Just my two cents though, so let me know your thoughts!