Mar 12, 2013

Mini book haul

Last weekend I did one of my most favourite things in the world, I spent an afternoon in downtown Portland. I took some time to read in one of the city parks, ate some delightful food, window shopped and hit the best store of all time – Powell’s Bookstore.


It’s amazing to me that always seem to uncover some literary gems, most of which I didn’t even have on my radar. This is quite an eclectic selection if I might say; new and upcoming writers, two classics and established modern fantasy writer. There's never a dull moment for me. 



Here are descriptions as provided by the publishers.

Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi 

Kweku Sai is dead. A renowned surgeon and failed husband, he succumbs suddenly at dawn outside his home in suburban Accra. The news of Kweku’s death sends a ripple around the world, bringing together the family he abandoned years before. Ghana Must Go is their story. Electric, exhilarating, beautifully crafted, Ghana Must Go is a testament to the transformative power of unconditional love, from a debut novelist of extraordinary talent.

Moving with great elegance through time and place, Ghana Must Go charts the Sais’ circuitous journey to one another. In the wake of Kweku’s death, his children gather in Ghana at their enigmatic mother’s new home. The eldest son and his wife; the mysterious, beautiful twins; the baby sister, now a young woman: each carries secrets of his own. What is revealed in their coming together is the story of how they came apart: the hearts broken, the lies told, the crimes committed in the name of love. Splintered, alone, each navigates his pain, believing that what has been lost can never be recovered—until, in Ghana, a new way forward, a new family, begins to emerge.

Ghana Must Go is at once a portrait of a modern family, and an exploration of the importance of where we come from to who we are. In a sweeping narrative that takes us from Accra to Lagos to London to New York, Ghana Must Go teaches that the truths we speak can heal the wounds we hide.

Ancestors Stones by Aminatta Forna

Abie has followed the arc of a letter from London back to Africa, to the coffee groves of Kholifa Estates, the plantation formerly owned by her grandfather. It is a place she remembers from childhood and which now belongs to her—if she wants it. Standing among the ruined groves she strains to hear the sound of the past, but the 'layers of years' in between then and now are too many. So begins her gathering of the family's history through the tales of her aunts.

This is the story of four lives: Asana, Mariama, Hawa and Serah Kholifa, born to the different wives of a wealthy plantation owner in an Africa where change is just beginning to arrive. Asana, lost twin and head-wife's daughter. Hawa, motherless child and manipulator of her own misfortune. Mariama, who sees what lies beyond this world. And Serah, follower of a Western-made dream.

Stretching across generations and set against the backdrop of a country's descent into freefall, Ancestor Stones is a stunning novel about understanding the past and how stories ancient and new shape who we've become, and one which offers a different way of seeing the world we share. It is the story of a nation, a family and four women's attempts quietly to alter the course of their own destiny.

Zoo City by Lauren Beukes

Zinzi has a Sloth on her back, a dirty 419 scam habit and a talent for finding lost things. But when a little old lady turns up dead and the cops confiscate her last paycheck, she’s forced to take on her least favourite kind of job – missing persons.

Being hired by reclusive music producer Odi Huron to find a teenybop pop star should be her ticket out of Zoo City, the festering slum where the criminal underclass and their animal companions live in the shadow of hell’s undertow.

Instead, it catapults Zinzi deeper into the maw of a city twisted by crime and magic, where she’ll be forced to confront the dark secrets of former lives – including her own.

The Poor Christ of Bomba by Mongo Beti

In Bomba the girls who are being prepared for Christian marriage live together in the women's camp. It is not clear whether the girls have to stay in the women's camp for such long periods for the good of their souls or for the good of the mission-building program. Only gradually does it become apparent that the local churchmen have also been using the local girls for their own purpose.

Mission to Kala by Mongo Beti

Mission to Kala (Mission terminée) is a powerful comic novel set in late colonial Cameroon. It won the Prix Sainte-Beuve in 1958. It describes the visit of a young Yaounde-educated man to a village in the interior. Jean-Marie Medza, the narrator, has just failed his Baccalauréat exam, and returns home expecting humiliation. Instead, he finds that as a scholar his prestige is immense, and he is charged with the duty of travelling to Kala, a remote village, to secure the return of a young woman who has fled her lazy, demanding husband. In Kala, while awaiting the return of the woman to the village, Medza stays with his uncle, who exploits the young man's celebrity status to have him showered with gifts, most of which his uncle keeps. Medza is the focus of a series of amusing incidents, becomes unexpectedly married, and eventually completes his mission - but then has to return home to deal with the anger of his ambitious father.

That Which Has Thorns by Miriam Shumba

That Which Has Horns is a gripping romance about Priscilla, a young woman who tries to understand where she fits in the new Zimbabwe, a nation where there are two types of women. There are those who submit to the rule of men, and those who are trying to break free of their limited options. Priscilla finds herself torn between a new day and the cultural bonds of the past.Whilst growing up resentful of a web of secrets that haunts her adolescence, she discovers that she has to begin her own cycle of secrets after the man she loves leaves her to pursue his education in England. Priscilla ends up living a life that many in the big city of Harare envy, but when the truth comes out there is uncertainty, danger and death.

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