So… my resident favourite author is in the news. Chimamanda is back! Relax now…another book is not yet here (but soon…very soon). She has been making waves since she spilled that she just gave birth to a girl and her troubles with depression during an interview on Lunch with the FT Both great news because she could sure bless the world with a mini-Chima(though its not a guarantee she will have her mother’s literary capabilities-we can always hope) and also that he coming out shows she is not above human realities and struggles. So I thought…what better time to urge you to get yourself one of her gems.
No one makes me both indecisive and alive, two emotions that should not go together, like Chimamanda. I’m at a level where I have read all her books, from the short stories in the thing around your neck to the stories spanning decades and continents in americanah, half of a yellow Sun and purple hibiscus. I can’t pick a favourite. She is that good. Very rarely do you find authors with such talent that any book you read, no matter what the genre or style, leaves you with longing and awe as to why the story is ending. I was afraid of writing book reviews about Chimamanda’s books as I thought…”hell. I don’t think I can do this woman justice”. But then, I can’t not encourage others to read these books…that’s why at the moment all my copies are on loan…its the first book I recommend my friends to loan from my library.
I read Americanah once a year. I think her books have some kind of raw honesty you don’t see everyday. Plus an author who understands sarcasm always stays winning. I first read purple hibiscus when I was on holiday in Voi and I just related to it page by page…it was full of punchlines on religion, hope, morality, family issues, siblings…all under the veil of war in Nigeria. Reading her feels like a story telling session wuth your favourite grandma.
But nothing brings out the toll of war as Half of a yellow Sun. I got to learn about the quality of life, how its not always black and white, how you can’t influence what others do but you can influence your reactions and attitudes about it and how people should not be boxed into age-old prejudices of what makes a person good and acceptable in society. Anyone living in Africa can relate with her books coz she is honestly just genuine and it comes through in her writing. I can’t find something critical to say about her writing, despite that I’m sure she is as flawed as any other person, I’m in love with her views. But her writing is truly genuine, true and she has something to contribute to the world. I’m sure I’m a certified groupie of hers since I’ve read more than just her books. From interviews, to Ted talks to Vlog reviews.
It is a book about love, race, hair, continents. It is so smart about so many subjects that I can’t even cover the scope of it. It is witheringly trenchant and hugely empathetic, both worldly and geographically precise, a novel that holds the discomfiting realities of our times fearlessly before us. It never feels false. There are some novels that tell a great story and others that make you change the way you look at the world
It’s not the book that entertained me the most from the Chimamanda collection but it brought to light how countries rose after colonialism and how religion brought by the same influenced households and families. Pleasing fathers, silent mothers, perfect sons and fearful daughters. The book’s heroine comes into her own to become an extrovert. It’s just a refreshing read
Half of a yellow sun:
Kenya went through post election and this book talks about how a nation can implode and the aftermath of that kind of chaos on those left behind. It’s a story about loyalty and betrayal and how public and private allegiances collide
Go out and buy a copy for yourself this year. In bookshops it goes for Kshs.1000. You will find yourself nodding to her, crying at the emotional parts, laughing at her sarcastic wittiness and closing the book to take in something deep and reverent. Her books require some open mindedness and attention. Actually just buy all of them…it will be a delight. Nothing beats this Nairobi cold like a good story.