GH at 60 | Our Writers & Their Books (part 3 – final)

Welcome back to part 3 – the final installment of the series: GH at 60 | Our Writers & Their Books.

As a person of Ghanaian heritage, I enjoy discovering new Ghanaian writers and learning about our pioneer writers. Being a lover of African literature and literature of the diaspora, I find that Ghanaian authors and their work aren’t as popular as Kenyan, South African, Nigerian or Zimbabwean literature.

GH at 60 | Our Writers & Their Books is a series that highlights and celebrates various Ghanaian writers and their work. If we don’t celebrate our own, who will? I hope your TBR lists grow once you take the time to appreciate these writers and their work through the series. This is the final installment of the 3-part series and it’s NOT exhaustive by any means. The list is arranged in alphabetical order, of last names.

Note: Images were taken from Goodreads and the respective writers’ websites.

Ama Ata Aidoo

Prof. Ama Ata Aidoo is one of Africa’s foremost woman writers. She’s a feminist, poet, academic, playwright and novelist with many notable works under her belt! Her first play – The Dilemma of a Ghost was published back in 1966 and her debut novel – Our Sister Killjoy was published back in 1977. Aidoo received the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book (Africa) for her novel entitled Changes in 1992 and she’s the author of many more poetry collections, short stories collections and plays. Her works highlight women experiences like gender and power dynamics, Western influences on African women and women protagonists defying stereotypical gender roles in family and society. On March 16th of this year, the The African University College for Communication named its new creative writing center after this phenomenal woman- Ama Ata Aidoo Center for Creative Writing.


Kofi Anyidoho

Prof. Kofi Anyidoho is a prominent Ghanaian poet, literary scholar, cultural activist and educator. He’s published 5 collections of poetry and some of these collections are accompanied with audio of the poems in Ewe – his native language. Anyidoho has won many awards for his poetry like the BBC Arts and Africa Poetry Award, Davidson Nicol prize, the Langston Hughes award, Valco Fund Literary Award among others!


Ayi Kwei Armah

Ayi Kwei Armah is a highly acclaimed Ghanaian novelist, poet and pan-African. Armah’s work is known to critically examine moral integrity that exists between the past and present, with poetic energy. He’s best known for his debut novel – The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born which was published in 1968 as well as the epic historical novel – Two Thousand Seasons (published in 1973) which received mixed reviews and actually received harsh criticism from Chinua Achebe back in 1987. Last year I attended a talk that featured Ayi Kwei Armah and Ayesha Harruna Attah (who was featured in part 2 of this series) and he discussed his latest projects in hieroglyphics.


Kofi Awoonor

Kofi Awoonor was a phenomenal poet, literary critic and professor of comparative literature. He is the author of novels, plays, political essays, literary criticism, and several volumes of poetry like Rediscovery and Other Poems (1964), Night of My Blood (1971), The House By the Sea (1978), The Promise of Hope: New and Selected Poems (2014) just to name a few. Awoonor made it a point to bring his Ewe culture and ancestry as well as contemporary religious symbolism to depict Africa during the era of decolonization into his poems and other works. Awoonor passed away in the Westgate shopping mall attack in Kenya back in September 2013, but we (Ghanaians and other fans of his work) always make it a point to celebrate him and his great legacy during his birthday. This year on March 13th (his birthday) the hashtag – #Awoonor82 was dedicated to honoring the legend, who would have been 82 years old this year.


Joe de Graft

Joe de Graft was a well-known Ghanaian writer, poet playwright and educator. He’s best known for his play Sons and Daughters (1979) which encourages the youth to follow their dreams. He uses the play to inform Ghanaian youth that careers in medicine, business and law aren’t the only careers that lead to success and inspires them to find interest in the arts like music, dance, writing etc. De Graft is also known for his works Beneath the Jazz and Brass (1975) and Muntu (1977) and Through A Film Darkly (1979). He left a legacy with the launch of the Mfantsipim School (his alma mater) Drama festival.


Yaa Gyasi

Yaa Gyasi is a Ghanaian-American novelist who’s debut – Homegoing, has been receiving well-deserved praise ever since it was published last year. I absolutely loved Homegoing and I explain why in a personal book review I posted last year. But we’re still waiting for Yaa Gyasi to grace Accra with her presence ohhh! Hopefully she’ll plan a trip soon, so that Ghanaians can engage with her and her book at a reading.


Kojo Laing

Kojo Laing is a poet, novelist and educator. Laing is the author of the novels Search Sweet Country (1986), Women of the Aeroplanes (1988)Major Gentl and the Achimota Wars (1992), Big Bishop Roko and the Altar Gangsters (2006) and the poetry collection Godhorse (1989). His poetry addresses the themes of identity and alienation while his novels combine magical realism with political commentary. Some readers have described his debut – Search Sweet Country as reading a dream with intense vivid imagery and humanization of inanimate objects. Laing’s work is an absorbing experience I hope to encounter soon when I indulge in his debut.


Atukwei Okai

Prof. Atukwei Okai is a prolific poet, cultural activist and academic with many accomplished works and honors. Some of his works include: Flowerfall (1969), Oath Of The Fontomfrom and Other Poems (1971), Lorgorligi: Logarithms and Other Poems (1974), Freedom Symphony: Selected and New Love Poems (2008), Mandela the Spear and Other Poems (2013) as well as children’s books like – The Anthill In the Sea: Verses and chants for children (1988), amongst others!


Taiye Selasi

Taiye Selasi is a writer and photographer of Ghanaian and Nigerian descent who popularized the term Afropolitan, thanks to her 2005 (controversial) essay – Bye-Bye, Babar. Selasi’s writing explores our relationships to our multiple identities – intersectionalities, if you will. She’s most popular for her debut novel – Ghana Must Go (2013). I particularly enjoyed her TEDGlobal talk (2014): Don’t ask where I’m from, ask where I’m a local.


Efua Sutherland

Efua Sutherland was a phenomenal Ghanaian writer, dramatist, teacher, scholar and cultural activist. For about 40 years, she was in the forefront of literary and theatrical movements in Ghana (from the 1950’s) and was a key player in pushing African performance to the university level. She was instrumental in founding various literary establishments like Ghana Society of Writers, the literary magazine Okyeame, the Ghana Drama Studio and the W.E.B. Du Bois Memorial Center for Pan African Culture (which is still in great shape in Cantonments, Accra). She’s well known for her works: Foriwa (1962), Edufa (1967), and The Marriage of Anansewa (1975). Find out more about Sutherland at the Mmofra Foundation – where children and culture connect, for which she is the founder.


Below are some HONORARY MENTIONS comprising of both budding and established writers of Ghanaian descent who you should definitely keep an eye out for. Click on their names to check out their writing portfolios, publications and/or websites:

  • Other YA writers: Nana Yaa Amankwa, Kwabena Ankomah-Kwakye, Adwoa Badoe, Elizabeth-Irene Baitie, Manu Herbstein, CNN Lokko.

The end of March is finally here, so the Ghana at 60| Our Writers & Their Books series has come to an end. A TOTAL of 75 Ghanaian writers (including honorary mentions) have been highlighted, as well as some of their work. It has been a pleasure sharing with the world our accomplished Ghanaians writers.

Food for thought: While I feel much pride in highlighting our Ghanaian writers, I also worry that most Ghanaians will never get the chance to read some of these authors’ work. Books by writers of African descent are pretty scarce here in Accra – several titles are either not sold in bookstores or they are super expensive so the average Ghanaian can’t afford them. Readers living abroad can get easy access to all of the works mentioned in this series, thanks to various online bookstores and several well stocked bookstores with African/Black fiction. But how about readers living in Ghana? How can works by Ghanaian writers be accessible to everyone and at affordable prices?

With the plethora of Ghanaian writers and books highlighted in this series, there is no excuse if anyone claims they don’t know (m)any writers from Ghana! I’d love to know who I missed (there are many more writers out there!) – kindly share other writers in the comments. And be sure to share this loaded resource with others, so they can indulge in Ghanaian literature as well.

GH at 60 | Our Writers & Their Books (part 2)

Welcome back to part 2 of the series: GH at 60 | Our Writers & Their Books.

As a person of Ghanaian heritage, I enjoy discovering new Ghanaian writers and learning about our pioneer writers. Being a lover of African literature and literature of the diaspora, I find that Ghanaian authors and their work aren’t as popular as Kenyan, South African, Nigerian or Zimbabwean literature.

GH at 60 | Our Writers & Their Books is a series that highlights and celebrates various Ghanaian writers and their work. If we don’t celebrate our own, who will? I hope your TBR lists grow once you take the time to appreciate these writers and their work through the series. This is part 2 of a 3-part series and it’s NOT exhaustive by any means. The list is arranged in alphabetical order, of last names.

Kofi Akpabli

Kofi Akpabli is a journalist, writer and cultural activist. He is also a two-time winner of the CNN Multichoice African Journalist for Arts and Culture Awards. In partnership with Ghanaian writer – Nana A. Damoah (who was featured in part 1 of this series), they’ve been leading a campaign to promote reading for pleasure around the nation. I need to add their next event to my calendar!


Ayesha Harruna Attah

I’ve spoken a lot about Ayesha’s work and there are lots of photos from her readings on this platform. If you haven’t read Harmattan Rain (2008) or Saturday’s Shadows (2015) yet, please get on it!! I’m a huge fan of Ayesha’s work and I’m looking forward to her new novel – One Hundred Wells to be published this year.


Yaba Badoe

Yaba Badoe is a Ghanaian-British filmmaker and fiction writer (and actually the aunt of one of my besties, Ashorkor). In 2014, she launched a documentary film entitled: The Art of Ama Ata Aidoo, in honor of Ama Ata Aidoo who is one of Ghana’s foremost woman writers. Yaba Badoe was a contributor to an anthology edited by Ama Ata Aidoo – African Love Stories and her story – ‘The Rival was one of my favorites because it was totally absurd, but very entertaining! Her debut novel – True Murder was published back in 2009.


Yaba Blay

Dr. Yaba Blay is a Ghanaian-American professor, producer, writer and researcher. Her research is mostly centered on Black body politics with specific attention to skin color and hair. Her 2007 dissertation- Yellow Fever: Skin Bleaching and the Politics of Skin Color in Ghana, relies upon African-centered and African feminist methodologies to investigate the social practice of skin bleaching in Ghana. Her coffee table book – (1)ne Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race (2013), explores the interconnected nuances of skin color politics, Black racial identity and challenges narrow perceptions of Blackness. Blay’s commentary has been featured on CNN, BET, MSNBC, NPR, O Magazine, Ebony Magazine, The Root, just to name a few!


Victoria Adukwei Bulley

Victoria is a British-born Ghanaian poet, writer and creative facilitator. Her work has been shortlisted for the Brunel University International African Poetry Prize, featured on BBC Radio 4, and has been commissioned by the Royal Academy of Arts. Her debut chapbook, Girl B is forthcoming as part of the 2017 New-Generation African Poets series, edited by Kwame Dawes. I’m always down to read a chapbook, especially those in the African Poetry Book Fund collection, so I’m super excited for Girl B to be released! The cover art for Girl B hasn’t been released yet, but a glimpse of her work from the chapbook was shared on Twitter last month.


Efemia Chela

Efemia is a writer of both Ghanaian and Zambian descent. Her first published story – ‘Chicken’ was shortlisted for the Caine Prize in 2014 and she’s contributed to a number of anthology collections. She’s currently a fellow of the inaugural Short Story Day Africa / Worldreader Editing Mentorship Programme and one of the editors of the anthology – Migrations: New Short Stories from Africa which will be out September of this year!


Lawrence Darmani

Lawrence Darmani is a novelist and publisher. I’m very familiar with his daily devotional articles in Our Daily Bread – a popular Christian devotional, available worldwide. Aside Darmani’s devotionals, he’s popularly known in primary & secondary schools in Ghana for his novel – Grief Child (1991), which won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize in 1992 as best first book from Africa. Darmani is the CEO of Step Publishers, which aims at publishing and distributing quality Christian literature.


Esi Edugyan

Esi Edugyan was born and raised in Canada (Calgary, Alberta) to Ghanaian parents. She’s popularly known for her sophomore novel Half-Blood Blues (2011), which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and many other prestigious literary awards. Half-Blood Blues won the 2011 Scotiabank Giller Prize which was valued at $50,000. I hardly hear people talk about this book. I must get my hands on it!


Martin Egblewogbe

Martin Egblewogbe is a poet, editor, short story writer and Physics lecturer. He’s popularly known as the co-founder of the amazing organization – Writers Project of Ghana that I’ve spoken about on several occasions on this platform. Martin self-published his debut collection of stories entitled Mr. Happy and the Hammer of God & Other Stories in 2008. Ayebia – a publishing house in the UK that specializes in publishing quality African and Caribbean writing, republished his collection in 2012. Egblewogbe has also edited various anthologies of poetry such as According to Sources (2015) and Look Where You Have Gone to Sit (2010).


Ruby Yayra Goka

Ruby Yayra Goka is a dentist by profession and a well-known Ghanaian YA (young adult) writer with a myriad of great books for children and young adults. Her debut – The Mystery of the Haunted House (2011) as well as 4 other works, The Perfectly Imperfect (first prize winner in 2013), Lost Royal Treasure, Plain Yellowing (second prize winner for 2014) and When the Shackles Fall won the Burt Award for African Literature. I’m really curious to know, who does the amazing illustrations for Goka’s books? Books by Ruby Yayra Goka are easily accessible to Ghanaians – I always spot her books in bookshops I frequent!


Malaka Grant

Malaka Grant is a Ghanaian-American author and co-founder of the highly acclaimed blog – Adventures from the Bedrooms of African Women. Her debut novel – The Daughters of Swallows (2013) is actually an adaptation of the blog and is a fictional account that follows 3 women in contemporary Ghana who try to adapt to challenging situations in their lives. Grant also writes children’s books and has published – Sally and the Butterfly, as well as Yaa Traps Death in a Basket. Her latest work – Madness & Tea (I love the green hue of the book cover!) was published in 2015. She has a blog on motherhood, marriage and madness (and everything in between!) at Mind of Malaka.


Ben Hinson

Ben Hinson is a Ghanaian-Nigerian author currently based in New York. He’s popularly known for his super ambitious, action packed historical thriller based on mercenary activity during the Cold War era in the 1990s called – Eteka: Rise of the Imamba (2016). This historical thriller seamlessly fuses Asian, African, American and European cultures and history into an unforgettable reading experience. From an interview I read featuring Hinson, it took him about 6 years (including research) to write this epic novel. From reviews, Eteka: Rise of the Imamba is worth all of its 557 pages. Definitely check it out!


Dorothy Koomson

Dorothy Koomson is a British author and journalist of Ghanaian descent. Her books mainly focus on relationships and families. She wrote her first novel (There’s A Thin Line Between Love And Hate) at the age of 13, but her debut, The Cupid Effect was published back in 2003. From then, 9 more of her books have been published! Out of her catalogue of books, I’m a huge fan of her 6th novel, The Ice Cream Girls and actually saw a television adaptation of the novel.


Lesley Lokko

Lesley Lokko is a Ghanaian-Scottish architect and novelist who lives simultaneously in Johannesburg, London, Accra and Edinburgh. She’s written about 8 books and I’ve been very eager to read Bitter Chocolate (2008) for a while now. Lokko has a pretty amazing book catalogue on her website. I definitely would like to read Bitter Chocolate and Sundowners soon!


Nana Malone

Nana Malone is a Ghanaian-American writer who is actually a USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance. She’s the author of 3 series: The Love Match Series – which feature contemporary romance stories; The In Stilettos Series – which feature sexy, fun multicultural romantic comedies and The Protectors series – which feature dark, superhero romance stories. I haven’t spotted any of her books here in Accra, but I’m sure they are available wherever books are sold online.


Marilyn Heward Mills

Marilyn Heward Mills is a writer of Ghanaian and Swiss descent. Her debut, The Cloth Girl (2006) is set in the Gold Coast at the end of British rule. It follows 14 year old Matilda – an uneducated, humble ‘cloth girl’ who’s childhood is ended by her marriage to Robert – a lawyer who already has a wife and children. Matilda meets the wife of another white man (a colonial administrator) and the two have tremendous impact on each other. Mills’s second novel, The Association of Foreign Spouses (2011) is set in Ghana in the turbulent 80’s.


Celestine Nudanu

Celestine Nudanu is a poet and passionate reader. Last year I attended the book launch of her debut poetry anthology entitled Haiku Rhapsodies – Verses from Ghana (2016) which features wonderful Afriku – haiku of African origin. Celestine is also the creator of the literary blog- Reading Pleasure, which is home to her Afriku as well as book reviews. Celestine was actually one of the first people to visit and offer encouraging comments on my book reviews here on African Book Addict!, so she holds a dear spot in my heart! Check out her poet profile, which was recently added to the prestigious Haiku Foundation registry.


Nii Ayikwei Parkes

Nii Ayikwei Parkes is a poet, essayist, novelist, editor and literary advocate who was born in the UK and raised in Ghana. He also writes under the pseudonym K.P. Kojo and has published a children’s book – The Parade: A Stampede of Stories About Ananse, the Trickster Spider under the pseudonym. I’m yet to indulge in Parkes’s poetry, but his novel- Tail of a Blue Bird (2009) is definitely a must read!


Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah

Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah is a Ghanaian feminist, writer, blogger and entrepreneur. She’s the curator of the highly acclaimed blog – Adventures from the Bedrooms of African Women, which was created in 2009 as a space for African women to share experiences of sex and diverse sexualities. She has contributed to a number of anthologies like It Wasn’t Actually Love (2016) and The Pot & Other stories (2015).


Are you familiar with any of these Ghanaian authors? Have you read any of the books mentioned above? 

The month of March has been dedicated to honoring Ghanaian authors as it is Ghana’s month of Independence. More writers will be highlighted! Stay tuned for Part 3 – the final installment of the series.

 

Note: Images were taken from Goodreads and the respective writers’ websites.

GH at 60 | Our Writers & Their Books (part 1)

Happy Independence Day to all Ghanaians! Ghana is 60 years old today.

After about 113 years of British rule, Ghana gained independence on this day – March 6th, 1957. Our independence pioneered and encouraged other African nations to also fight for their independence from colonial rule. We’ve come a long way and still have a ways to go, but I’m proud to be a Ghanaian.

As a person of Ghanaian heritage, I enjoy discovering new Ghanaian writers and learning about our pioneer writers. Being a lover of African literature and literature of the diaspora, I find that Ghanaian authors and their work aren’t as popular as Kenyan, South African, Nigerian or Zimbabwean literature.

GH at 60 | Our Writers & Their Books is a series that highlights and celebrates various Ghanaian writers and their work. If we don’t celebrate our own, who will? I hope your TBR lists grow once you take the time to appreciate these writers and their work through the series. This is part 1 of a 3-part series and it’s NOT exhaustive by any means. The list is arranged in alphabetical order, of last names.

Sophia Acheampong

I think Sophia Acheampong’s books have the cutest book covers, ever! Acheampong is a Ghanaian-British author of YA (young adult) fiction. Growing Yams in London (2006) and iPods in Accra (2009) follow fourteen year old British-born Makeeda who’s trying to balance both Ghanaian and British identities in the ultra-modern world of social media and instant messaging.


G.A. Agambila

Dr. Gheysika Adombire Agambila is a native of Bolgatanga (in the Upper East Region of Ghana) and is the author of two novels – Journey (2006) and Emigrant (2016). I’m not really crazy about the cover art for Journey, but I’ve seen the book in quite a few bookshops here in Accra. Ann Morgan of blog – A Year of Reading the World chose to read Journey for her Ghana pick and her book review made me add it to my TBR.


Mohammed Naseehu Ali

Mohammed Nasheehu Ali is a Ghanaian writer based in New York City. I read a book review of Ali’s short stories collection – The Prophet of Zongo Street (2006) last year and was determined to purchase it once I spotted it in bookstores. If you would like to get a feel of his writing, check out two short stories: Mallam Sile & My Name is Not Cool Anymore, published in The New Yorker & The New York Times respectively.


Asabea Ashun

Asabea Ashun is the pseudonym of Dr. Mary Ashun who has published a good number of YA (young adult) fiction and adventure stories for children. Last year, I purchased her latest novel, Serwa Akoto’s Diary (2013) which follows a young lady, Serwa Akoto on her quest to blend her Ghanaian heritage and Canadian lifestyle.


Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond

Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond is a Ghanaian-American writer who is the author of Powder Necklace (2010). Powder Necklace is a coming-of-age tale that follows Lila, who was born and raised in England. She’s later sent to Ghana to attend a local boarding school (mirrored off Mfantsiman Girls’ High School in Cape Coast, Ghana) and life takes a 360 degree turn for Lila with respect to her identity and the concept of home. I read the novel back in 2013 and deeply appreciated it as I could relate to the story on many levels. I hope Nana Ekua’s second novel is in the works!


Akosua Busia

If you’ve seen the film The Color Purple, Akosua Busia may look familiar as she played Nettie in it! Akosua Busia is an actress, author, song-writer and film director. The Seasons of Beento Blackbird: A Novel (1997) is Busia’s debut.


Nana Awere Damoah

Nana Awere Damoah is a chemical engineer and author of four non-fiction books. I’ve spotted his most recent book – Sebitically Speaking (2015) in bookshops here in Accra. His other works include I Speak of Ghana (2013), Through the Gates of Thought (2010), Excursions in my Mind (2008) and a collection of short stories called Tales from Different Tails (2011). Damoah’s writing draws readers’ attention to issues that plague the nation and its citizens, with a satirical flavor that will kick anyone into questioning their priorities. Damoah’s work will be reviewed on this platform soon!


Meri Nana-Ama Danquah

Meri Nana-Ama Danquah is a Ghanaian-American writer, editor and journalist. I purchased an anthology edited by Danquah – The Black Body, back in 2009 and found it compelling. Meri Nana-Ama Danquah is best known for her 1998 memoir Willow Weep for Me: A Black Woman’s Journey Through Depression, which I MUST get my hands on soon. In these tumultuous times, her memoir would definitely be a timely read with discourse on mental health and self-care.


Amma Darko

Amma Darko is one of my favorite Ghanaian writers and I feel she is SERIOUSLY underrated. Her 1995 debut, Beyond the Horizon is a tragic masterpiece that I think all book lovers need to read! It’s an uncomfortable read, but important work of art on feminism, immigration, racism, chauvinism and so much more. I plan on reading her 2003 novel, Faceless at some point this year.


Amu Djoleto

Amu Djoleto is a writer and educator who’s novels are quite popular in Ghanaian primary and secondary schools (elementary, middle and high schools). He’s best known for his debut novel – The Strange Man, which is part of the African Writers Series.


Boakyewaa Glover

I met Boakyewaa Glover early last year and she was gracious enough to gift me with two of her novels – Tendai: Nature and Science Unleashed and The Justice: A Political Thriller! I finished reading Tendai last year and the novel was a good blend of sci-fi and mystery. Her latest novel – The Justice was published back in 2013 and is very high up on my TBR list. Apparently the sex scenes in The Justice are pretty spicy, which is rare for Africa fiction. I love that Glover’s books are available in many boutiques and shops, including Shell service station shops, making her work accessible to all Ghanaians.


Mamle Kabu

Mamle Kabu or Mamle Wolo are the pseudonyms of Martina Odonkor, who is a writer of Ghanaian and German ancestry. I was pleasantly surprised to find that her short story ‘The End of Skill’ was shortlisted for the Caine Prize in 2009 (the year E.C Osondu won!). Kabu’s YA (young adult) novel The Kaya-Girl won the Burt Award for African Literature in 2011. The cover art for The Kaya-Girl is stunning.


Benjamin Kwakye

Benjamin Kwakye is a lawyer and novelist with a couple of book awards under his belt. His debut novel, The Clothes of Nakedness (1998) won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. Kwakye’s sophomore novel, The Sun By Night (which has awesomely eccentric cover art) rightfully won the 2006 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book (Africa Region). Out of Kwakye’s books catalogue, I think his debut and sophomore books have the best book covers!


Nana Prah

Nana Prah is a Ghanaian multicultural romance writer. She has about 8 books that have been published and most of them are available for purchase online. Does anyone know if her books are sold here in Accra? Last year I read 2 romance novels and I can’t wait to grab a book from Nana Prah’s collection next! Check out her blog: http://nanaprah.blogspot.com/


Kwei Quartey

Dr. Kwei Quartey is a Ghanaian crime fiction writer. His Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery series is pretty popular, and I love the cover art work for all the books in this series! Late 2014, I really enjoyed his reading that was held here in Accra. He currently resides in California and juggles being a physician and a writer. Book 5 of the series, Death by His Grace will be released August of this year.


Frances Mensah Williams

Frances Mensah Williams is an award-winning Ghanaian-British author of women’s fiction. If you’ve read any books published by the independent publishing house based in London – Jacaranda Books, Williams’s name and her books may look familiar. She created the light-hearted, contemporary series – From Pasta to Pigfoot (2015), which follows London born and bred Faye Bonsu, on her journey to understanding her native Ghanaian culture.



Are you familiar with any of these Ghanaian authors? Have you read any of the books mentioned above? 

The month of March will be dedicated to honoring Ghanaian authors as it is Ghana’s month of independence. Many more writers will be highlighted in this series! Stay tuned for Part 2 of GH at 60 | Our Writers & Their Books.

Note: Images were taken from Goodreads and the respective writers’ websites.

Lizard & Other Stories by Marcelle Mateki Akita

Date Read: December 27th 2016

Published: December 18th 2016

Publisher: Marcelle Mateki Akita

Pages: 63

 

 

 

 

The Blurb

Follow the stories of five young characters who try to make sense of loss, sex and sexuality in Lizard & Other Stories. Marcelle Mateki Akita explores how topics such as broken family and romantic relationships, sexual violence and masturbation impact a young girl and woman’s development. The collection’s short stories and flash fiction focus on girls and women of Ghanaian and mixed heritage. Written in an imaginative and sobering style, Lizard & Other Stories will unsettle and surprise you.

 

Review – ★★★ (3 stars)

How cute is the cover art of Lizard & Other Stories? The beads are truly attractive! Lizard & Other Stories is the good debut of short stories by reader, researcher and co-founder of Afrikult. (a literary platform that discusses, explores and celebrates the diversity of African literature) – Marcelle Mateki Akita. The collection consists of five stories that focus mainly on girls and women of Ghanaian or mixed heritage. The stories in this collection are vivid, bold and told in a calm manner. Once I started reading, I was drawn into Marcelle’s comfy, calm writing style, which allowed me to get to know the characters at relatively good paces. Some issues explored in this collection are: coming of age, religion, family, sexuality, (domestic) violence, naivety and betrayal.

What makes this collection special is the ambiguous nature of all the stories. If you read this collection more than once – which I highly encourage, you will realize that there are various interpretations and extra, juicy details you probably missed during the first reading. When I got the chance to discuss Lizard & Other Stories with Marcelle during Christmas break, I realized I interpreted the stories, especially the final one, entitled Kwesi, in a completely different way than she did. It takes talent to pull that off, even if it’s never a writers’ intention to give stories various meanings. Another thing that’s great about this collection is the unpredictability of the stories. I felt really cozy while reading the first story, entitled Ama, until the story took an unexpected turn and left a sour taste in my mouth. From the way the stories commence to their finality are polar opposites, which was refreshing!

I would’ve been more satisfied with these stories if the characters were developed a little further for readers to fully understand their actions. Also, some passages in this collection seemed overly descriptive, which isn’t my preference when reading short stories and flash fiction. But I must say, the vivid descriptions certainly allow one to picture exactly what is being observed, which was appreciated.

If you want to indulge in bold, unpredictable stories written in a calm voice, definitely look into reading this collection! I eagerly look forward to Marcelle’s future projects – a novel soon, maybe? Pretty please?

Special thanks to Marcelle, for the free copy of Lizards & Other Stories, in exchange for an honest review 🙂


To get a feel of her writing, check out Marcelle’s story that was published by AFREADA last year – Cassava’s Finest

Read more of Marcelle’s work on her websiteShe posts wonderful musings of the mind and soul every Monday and 100 word stories every Wednesday.

★★★ (3 stars) – Good book. I recommend it, I guess.

Purchase Lizard & Other Stories on Amazon

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Yaa GyasiDate Read: July 16th 2016

Published: 2016

Publisher: A.A Knopf

Pages: 305

 

 

 

 

The Blurb

A novel of breathtaking sweep and emotional power that traces three hundred years in Ghana and along the way also becomes a truly great American novel. Extraordinary for its exquisite language, its implacable sorrow, its soaring beauty, and for its monumental portrait of the forces that shape families and nations, Homegoing heralds the arrival of a major new voice in contemporary fiction.

 

Review – ★★★★★ (5 stars)

Yaa Gyasi’s debut – Homegoing, is historical fiction at its best. I honestly thought Chimamanda Adichie’s Americanah hit home for me back in 2013 when I read it. But Homegoing IS home. Homegoing is about my home. I never thought I’d read book that perfectly articulates the dynamics of being Ghanaian-American. The only book I’ve read that somewhat touches on the identity complexities of being Ghanaian by blood and American (or British) by birth, was Powder Necklace by Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond (another awesome Ghanaian-American writer). I might have to re-read Powder Necklace and review it on this platform soon!

Homegoing was an emotional read – throughout! I started reading during the wake of the horrific Alton Sterling and Philando Castile police shootings of early July, so you can imagine how haunting these real life events paralleled with this particular historical fiction, which focuses on the legacy of slavery in America and Ghana. Homegoing follows two half sisters – Effia and Esi who live in 18th century Ghana and the generations after them, making Effia and Esi the matriarchs of dual lineages. Effia becomes the wench (not wife) of the British governor of Cape Coast Castle (a slave castle here in Ghana) and is the matriarch of the Ghanaian line of the family; while Esi, who is kept as a slave in the dungeons of this same Cape Coast Castle where Effia resides with the governor, is the matriarch of the American line of the family. Homegoing alternates between the descendants of the two sisters, chronologically from 18th century Ghana to present day (after the millennium), in both Ghana and the US. As with most books of the historical fiction genre, a family tree is provided on the first page of the novel which makes following the two lineages and the different family members pretty easy.

To be honest, I don’t think it’s possible to read Homegoing without harboring some resentment for the insanity white folks forced people of African descent to endure. From the events of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, to the injustice and discrimination black folks faced in the American south as slaves, to the Anglo-Ashanti wars in Ghana, to present day racial tensions and disregard for black bodies, are all legacies of slavery. I truly admire how Gyasi manages to personalize slavery and its effects through the use of character development in each chapter. In every chapter, readers witness how each generation got some inheritance of slavery – be it through mass incarceration, the need to pass as white, lynching, colorism, the fragmenting of families and so much more.

As much as the terrors white folks caused black people are highlighted in Homegoing, I appreciate Gyasi for not letting Africans off the hook for being complicit in the slave trade. Unfortunately, the role African nations played in enabling slavery are  rarely addressed. All the ethnic wars, kidnapping of innocent people and trading of human beings in exchange for goods from the British, Dutch and Portuguese were all selfish, contributing factors to the slave trade and the inhumane effects they still manifest. While reading Homegoing, I kept thinking about Maya Angelou’s autobiography – All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes and her valid feelings of anger and disappointment she expressed after visiting the Elmina Castle (a Portuguese slave castle here in Ghana) in Cape Coast, Ghana back in the 1970’s. I understood her anger, as she was a descendent of our people who were captured and sold to the Europeans. As upsetting as the slave trade was, I applaud Gyasi for using Homegoing as a way for opening up conversations on the obscure relationship between Africans and African-Americans today, thanks to our disturbed past.

Gyasi’s ability to seamlessly weave Ghanaian and African-American histories into this story was very ambitious and exciting to read! I was impressed with the plethora of themes, actual historical events and icons that made realistic cameos in this novel. Don’t get me wrong – Homegoing is not rigid with historical facts. It’s very much a holistic novel with issues like interracial relationships, sharecropping, racial passing, lynching, homosexuality, mental illness, abelism, colorism and so much more, embedded into the storyline with respect to the times in which the characters live. Real historic icons and happenings like Yaa Asantewaa of Ejisu, The Asantehene, the civil rights movement & non-violent resistance headed by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, the Harlem heroin epidemic of the late 1960’s and others are all impressively packed into this novel of 305 pages!

I enjoyed most of the chapters and characters in Homegoing. But my favorite character was Marjorie. I like to believe Marjorie’s chapter is Yaa Gyasi – fictionalized. Marjorie was born in Ghana and raised in the US, just like Yaa Gyasi. In Marjorie’s chapter, I loved how the character articulates how she doesn’t identify fully as Ghanaian or ‘Black American’ which is sometimes used synonymously with the ambiguous term – ‘akata’ by some Africans. I especially loved that Marjorie found joy in reading books by writers of African descent,

Her work was in African and African American literature, and when Marcus asked her why she choose those subjects, she said that those were the books that she could feel inside her. (pg. 295)

Is Marjorie me? That quote is basically the essence of why I created African Book Addict! It was refreshing to read Majorie’s chapter, as I completely understood her identity struggles. While my life story is a little different from Majorie’s/Yaa Gyasi’s, reading a character with a similar background as yours is deeply gratifying. You begin to realize that there are others like you in the world; that you’re not alone in your confusion as to where you call home; that your convictions on your ever evolving identities are valid.

While discussing Homegoing with other book lovers here in Accra, I realized there were some minor inaccuracies in the novel. But I didn’t mind the minor inaccuracies others felt the need to point out. I did however find the ending of this phenomenal book a bit corny. Marcus’s chapter should have ended with a bang – as all the other chapters did! Regardless, Homegoing was emotional and heartbreaking, yet exhilarating to read. I hope Yaa Gyasi makes a trip to Ghana soon or adds Accra to her book tour. I’d love a good ole’ chat with a fellow Ghanaian-American and of course, for my copy of the book to be graced with her signature!

I’d like to extend a special thank you to my new friend – Trish Tchume and publishers A. A Knopf  for my copy of the book.  Homegoing is definitely one of my top 5 favorite books of this year. Don’t be surprised when it is required reading in schools soon.

★★★★★ (5 stars) – Amazing book, I loved it. Absolutely recommend!

My copy of Homegoing before and after reading.

P.S: I’ve typed all of the quotes I highlighted while reading and I’m open to sending anyone who’s interested, the PDF file of the compiled quotes via email. Some of the quotes, notes and suggested readings I highlighted would make for amazing book club discussions 🙂

Purchase Homegoing on Amazon

Brunch Over Books – Sip ‘n’ Swap in Accra!

Ever since I moved to Accra in 2014, I’ve really been missing the variety of literary events I used to attend back in Boston and Middlebury. But Accra has its own selection of events I’ve been enjoying. Writers Project Ghana has been spearheading the literary scene with the plethora of events they host, like – Ghana Voices Series: where bookworms and literary fiends gather for monthly public book readings featuring African writers who visit Accra; Writers Project on Citi FM: an hour of poetry readings and updates on literature-related events in Accra on the radio waves; writers workshops, book club meetings and more! With respect to book festivals, GAWBOFEST – Ghana Association of Writers Book Festival has been a recurring book festival for 5 years now. Hopefully I’ll find time to finally attend this year’s event in September. Also later this year, the Storymoja Festival will be in Accra (not Nairobi, Kenya) – so that will be exciting!

To add to the eclectic and ever growing bunch of literary events in Accra is – Brunch Over Books! Two weeks ago, Brunch Over Books – a Sip ‘n’ Swap book exchange was inaugurated at the quaint Café Kwae, in Accra. This maiden event, curated by the lovely Nana Konamah (@nanakonamah), attracted lots of bookworms, book bloggers and page slayers to sip yummy drinks and exchange book titles and actual books! After a speed book exchange activity, I jotted down a couple of book recommendations, met some folks I had been following (or stalking) on social media – like Ghanaian bibliophile, Shika of @bookpress on Instagram (@bookpresse on Twitter) and just geeked-out over books with fellow book lovers who also recently moved to the city, and long time residents of Accra!

Images via Brunch Over Books

As per my Book Chat post on book lending – you know me! I do not lend or exchange books (sorry, not sorry). So for this event, I purposely purchased a new copy of Beyond the Horizon by Amma Darko (a Ghanaian book and author I believe is seriously underrated) for whoever wanted to swap with me – but for the person to KEEP.

Its always refreshing when you can converse with book lovers and discuss why you loved/disliked certain novels. If you live in Accra, try and come to the next Sip ‘n’ Swap event! Rumor has it that the next gathering will be in August. I can’t wait to see what new activities and conversations we’ll have over yummy cocktails.

 

What type of literary events do you usually attend? Have you ever been to any book festivals, public readings (I feel like public readings are standard go-to’s for book lovers, right?), book signings, book exchanges, book blogger meet-ups? How many times a year do you attend literary events? Please do share!

Saturday’s Shadows by Ayesha H. Attah

Saturday's ShadowsDate Read: February 27th 2016

Published: January 2015

Publisher: World Editions

Pages: 352

 

 

 

 

The Blurb

The protagonists of Saturday’s Shadows experience the fine line between sanity and madness as they try to find and hold on to love in the volatile world of 1990s West Africa. After a seventeen-year military dictatorship, a country tries to find it’s footing while the members of the middle-class Avoka family lurch towards destruction. They live in a politically complex climate, a time so tenuous that the country could easily dip back into its military past.

Review – ★★★ (3 stars)

Saturday’s Shadows is a multi-voice novel about the Avoka family in an unnamed West African country. Readers meet Theo – the head of the Avoka family, who is working on the president – Dr. Karamoh Saturday’s memoir and might be caught up in dangerous political risks. His wife is Zahra, who works in the farming industry but is pre-occupied with re-living her past love life with an old flame. And there’s Kojo, their only child who is struggling to keep up with schoolwork at the prestigious International Secondary School. Atsu, the Avoka family’s house help is straight out of the village and is busy balancing learning to read and write English while trying to stay out of trouble with a suspicious man who admires her.

Saturday’s Shadows is a decent novel and Ayesha H. Attah does an amazing job with character development. Character development is a huge strength of Ayesha Harruna Attah’s and I remember truly enjoying the character development of characters like Sugri and Akua-Afriyie in Harmattan Rain back in 2014. My favorite character in Saturday’s Shadows is Kojo. He is such a witty, hilarious, typical teenage boy with insecurities and worries of growing up. I was always happy to read his chapters in this novel as he finds young love and struggles with bullies and Math at school. My least favorite character in this novel is Kojo’s mother – Zahra. She’s such selfish mother and wife! Throughout the book, she only lives to satisfy her own wants and needs, which put her health and marriage at risk. Theo Avoka’s chapters are intriguing as well. He gives the novel a political feel, which is a different dimension to the family-oriented theme of this novel.

Because this story takes place in an unnamed West African nation, the different characters have various names of West African origin. For example, some characters have Nigerian names like Kunle and Ngozi ; Ghanaian names like Atsu and Kojo ; Senegalese names like Ndeye and Diouf. This may seem trivial, but I really loved how there was a cute blend of West African names in this novel! But it took me 2 months to finish Saturday’s Shadows – I started it a day after Christmas and ended up taking a break from the book when I got to page 260 or so. I think I was just craving a story that was more fast-paced and exciting. Why did all the good action have to happen on page 300, almost towards the end? After I picked this up again in February, I found the storyline to be a bit predictable. I’m a huge fan of Ayesha H. Attah’s work, but this book wasn’t as exciting for me as Harmattan Rain. Definitely read this book if you enjoy character development and a family themed story!

★★★ (3 stars) – Good book. I recommend it, I guess.

Check out some photos from the Saturday’s Shadows book reading I attended back in 2015 – here.

Ayesha H. Attah is working on a new novel called One Hundred Wells! Read more about it – here. I’m excited for it!!

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Purchase Saturday’s Shadows on Book Depository

African Love Stories: An Anthology edited by Ama Ata Aidoo + GIVEAWAY!

aidooDate Read: January 23rd 2016

Published: 2006

Publisher: Ayebia Publishing

Pages: 249

 

The Blurb

African love stories? Is that not some kind of anomaly? This radical collection of short stories, most published in this edition for the first time, aims to debunk the myth about African women as impoverished helpless victims. With origins that span the continent, it combines budding writers with award-winning authors; the result is a melting pot of narratives from intriguing and informed perspectives.

These twenty odd tales deal with challenging themes and represent some of the most complex of love stories. Many are at once heart breaking yet heart warming and even courageous. In Badoe’s hilarious ‘The Rival’, we encounter a 14 -year-old girl who is determined to capture her uncle’s heart. His wife, she decided would just have to go. Mr. Mensah the uncle is all of sixty years old.

Crafted by a stellar cast of authors that includes El Saadawi, Ogundipe, Magona, Tadjo, Krog, Aboulela, Adichie, Oyeyemi, wa Goro, Atta, Manyika and Baingana, there is hardly any aspect of women’s love life untouched. From labour pains to burials, teenagers to octogenarians, and not to mention race-fraught and same-sex relationships, the human heart is all out there: beleaguered and bleeding, or bold, and occasionally triumphant.

 

Review – ★★★★★ (5 stars)

I think I have a soft spot for anthologies. Anthologies help me discover new writers. African Love Stories: An Anthology is the second African women’s anthology I’ve enjoyed. In 2014, I reviewed Opening Spaces: Contemporary African Women’s Writing edited by Yvonne Vera (1999) and was thrilled by the diverse stories and cast of African women writers. I even took interest in the writers who were unfamiliar to me at the time, like Leila Aboulela and Lília Momplé.

I know what you were thinking when you saw the title, ‘African Love Stories’ – no, this is not a collection of sappy, romantic, unrealistic, happily-ever-after tales. African Love Stories: An Anthology is a collection of 21 contemporary short stories laden with breathtaking originality. The stories speak on: the issues inter-racial couples face, a woman’s wrath when she discovers her lover is married, the lengths a village boy goes to rescue his wife-to-be, domestic violence, a child born out-of-wedlock who is scorned at her father’s funeral, same-sex relationships, sisterhood, a mother’s love, sacrifice and so much more. There are layered complexities in all 21 stories and the writers skillfully consummate each short tale such that readers ponder and cherish them, even days after enjoying the stories.

The women writers and the stories of this anthology span across the African continent – from Egypt to South Africa. Well-known authors such as: Nawal El Saadawi, Veronique Tadjo, Chimamanda N. Adichie, Leila Aboulela, Sindiwe Magona, Sefi Atta, Monica Arac de Nyeko, Helen Oyeyemi amongst others, are featured in the anthology. But I expected more diversity with respect to the countries represented in this collection. I didn’t expect a lot of the stories (11 of them) to be written by Nigerian women – this is not a bad thing, don’t get me wrong! I just wish there was a better mix of countries represented, as was in Opening Spaces: Contemporary African Women’s Writing edited by Yvonne Vera (1999). (I’m not comparing… but I’m comparing haha)

Anyways, I enjoyed all the stories from this collection (well, except two) and my faves were:

“Something Old, Something New” by Leila Aboulela (Sudan) – This is a story that chronicles the events that occur prior to a wedding between a young, muslim, dark-skinned Sudanese woman of the diaspora and a white, muslim man from Edinburgh. During their trip to Khartoum for the ceremony, several events occur that threaten their impending wedding. I really admire the calm manner of Aboulela’s storytelling, especially in this tale.

“The Rival” by Yaba Badoe (Ghana) – The Rival has got to be the most absurd story I’ve ever read! In this story, a wife tries her best to keep her marriage from falling apart by the twisted, affectionate love of her husband’s niece. Since when did nieces start falling for their uncles and dreaming of being the ‘madam’ of the house? How awkward! Yaba Badoe created a masterpiece with this strange story.

“Tropical Fish” by Doreen Baingana (Uganda) – University student – Christine, finds herself sleeping with a British expat who exports fish to the UK. The story takes us through the inner thoughts of Christine as she tries to find herself – because she truly seems lost. I was disgusted and at times mad at Christine for tolerating the intolerable in this story. I loved how Doreen Baingana kept me on the edge of my seat while reading this! (I have Doreen Baingana’s novel Tropical Fish which this story is an excerpt from, and I’m excited to read it soon!)

“Needles of the Heart” by Promise Ogochukwu (Nigeria) – I enjoyed the easy, simple nature in the writing of this story. A woman marries a man who she discovers is a chronic abuser. She constantly finds herself making excuses for her husband, even while she suffers on hospital beds from his fury. The ending of the story had me wondering if the author actually condones domestic violence… This story is pretty scary, but holds a great message if you read in-between the lines.

The editor, Ama Ata Aidoo urges readers to enjoy this collection slowly:

Dear reader, it is highly recommended that you take these stories one at a time, so that you meet these African women properly and individually, and listen to them and their hearts: whether Sudanese, Kenyan, Ghanaian, Nigerian or Zimbabwean… (pg. xiv)

and I totally concur with her. I read these stories slowly and savored them. Why rush through such a rich anthology? That’s no fun!

Even though this anthology was published in 2006 – about 10 years ago, I believe the content is ever so relevant to this day. I wholeheartedly recommend this collection to everyone. These contemporary stories may be set in countries in Africa, but the theme of love is universal to all!

★★★★★ (5 stars) – Amazing book, I loved it. Absolutely recommend!

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Purchase African Love Stories: An Anthology on Amazon


GIVEAWAY ALERT!

February is the month of love, and I’d like to give away one brand new copy of this lovely anthology! Enter the giveaway below to stand a chance at winning African Love Stories: An Anthology. The winner will be announced a day after Valentine’s Day – so you have about 10 days to try your luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway TERMS & CONDITIONS:

  • Giveaway starts Feb 4th 2016 at 12am GMT & ends Feb 15th 2016 at 12am GMT (Greenwich Mean Time)
  • This is an international giveaway – it is open to everyone, worldwide.
  • You must be 18 years and older to participate in this giveaway.
  • The winner will be selected by Random.org, through Rafflecopter and will be notified by email.
  • The winner will have 48 hours to respond to the email before a new winner is selected.
  • If you are the lucky winner of the book, Darkowaa will be shipping your prize to you directly.
  • Once the winner is notified via email, providing shipping details will go to Darkowaa only and will only be used for the purpose of shipping the prize to the winner.
  • The item offered in this giveaway is free of charge, no purchase is necessary.
  • If there are any questions and concerns about this giveaway, please email: africanbookaddict@gmail.com

Good luck, everyone!

Update: This giveaway has ended. Thanks to those who participated! Congrats to the winner! 

Beasts of No Nation by Uzodinma Iweala… the film?

Yes, yes, yes! Uzodinma Iweala’s debut novel, Beasts of No Nation: A Novel (2005) is being adapted for the big screen and will be showing in select theaters (in the U.S) and available worldwide on Netflix next month – October 16th 2015! Beasts of No Nation: A novel (which is a title adopted from Fela Kuti’s 1989 album) was released 10 years ago, but the haunting novel is still on the minds of readers who’ve enjoyed the book! Have you read Beasts of No Nation: A novel yet?
Beasts of No Nation 

Check out the synopsis: 

In this stunning debut novel, Agu, a young boy in an unnamed West African nation, is recruited into a unit of guerrilla fighters as civil war engulfs his country. Haunted by his father’s own death at the hands of militants, Agu is vulnerable to the dangerous yet paternal nature of his new commander. While the war rages on, Agu becomes increasingly divorced from the life he had known before the conflict started—a life of school friends, church services, and time with his family still intact.

In a powerful, strikingly original voice that vividly captures Agu’s youth and confusion, Uzodinma Iweala has produced a harrowing, inventive, and deeply affecting novel.

Beasts of No Nation: A Novel has been required reading for a Political Science class: African Politics (PSCI 0202) at my alma mater, Middlebury College. I never registered for that class but I decided to start reading the book on my own back in 2011, and never finished it as I was busy with finals at the time. When I was the President of the African Students’ Association at Middlebury – UMOJA, we invited Iweala to our ‘Touch of Africa Week’ where he gave an enlightening talk on “What, Who is an ‘Authentic’ African?” After the talk we discussed his novel Beasts of No Nation, African identity and other topics pertaining to our beloved continent over dinner at a professor’s house. Check out the (grainy) pictures below:


I’m excited and proud of Uzo! It must be every author’s dream to have their novel made into a film – it’s a big deal! I’m still fascinated at Iweala’s ability to embody the sentiments of a child soldier in the novel, since his background of being a Harvard graduate seems far from the unfortunate struggle of being a child victim of civil war. That takes real talent and a vivid imagination! I will definitely finish reading Beasts of No Nation: A Novel before I watch the film. Films don’t usually capture the essence of the books they are based on. However, I’m confident this film adaptation will do Beasts of No Nation: A Novel justice. The film is set in the Eastern Region of Ghana and is directed by Emmy Award winner Cary FukunagaGolden Globe Award winning actor, Idris Elba plays the main warlord in the film and the talented Ghanaian actress, Ama K. Abebrese plays the child soldier – Agu’s mother. With all that talent in one film, I have faith that it will be superb!

Check out the trailer for the film below:

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Purchase Beasts of No Nation: A Novel on Amazon

The Housemaid by Amma Darko

the housemaidDate Read: May 7th 2015

Published: 1998

Publisher: Heinemann (African Writer’s Series)

Pages: 107

 

The Blurb

A dead baby and bloodstained clothes are discovered near a small village. Everyone is ready to comment on the likely story behind the abandoned infant. The men have one opinion, the women another. As the story rapidly unfolds it becomes clear that seven different women played their part in the drama. All of them are caught in a web of superstition, ignorance, greed and corruption.

 

Review – ★★★ (3 stars)

I bought The Housemaid back in 2008, but finally gave this book a chance and finished reading it in May of this year. This is such a messy, messy story- but in a good way! This novel tells a story of how a poor family in a Ghanaian village decides to jilt a rich businesswoman in the city, by using their daughter – who becomes a housemaid, to attempt to steal this rich woman’s wealth. As usual, Amma Darko tackles a lot of social issues in this novel and this is why I respect her as a writer. Darko explores issues of socio-economic differences between the rich and the poor, city life versus village life, feminism, spinsterhood, gender roles, religious beliefs and superstition. I liked how the story was consummated at the end, even though this novel consists of a series of crazy events.

But I was a little disappointed with Amma Darko’s writing style in this novel. The writing was choppy and too colloquial for my liking. It was quite annoying to spot basic grammatical errors and the misusage of words like ‘your’ and ‘you’re’ in some chapters. Nonetheless, the social issues addressed in this book made me appreciate the story. Amma Darko’s novel Beyond the Horizon is still a gem and a more meticulously written book than The HousemaidThe Housemaid is more of a 2.5 stars rating for me.

★★★ (3 stars) – Good book. I recommend it, I guess.

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Purchase The Housemaid on Amazon