April 28, 2016

Book Release!!! | "Eteka: Rise of the Imamba" by Ben Hinson

Two years ago when I interviewed Ben Hinson for this blog he was still working on his novel "Eteka: Rise of the Imamba". His interview was one of the best interviews I've done for this blog. He shared his personal experiences, talked about this project and gave some advice to aspiring authors. Today, I'm very pleased to announce that his novel "Eteka: Rise of the Imamba" has been released! It's five hundred and sixty-four pages long and you can
buy it on Amazon for $19.99. It was published by his company, Musings Press, which he spoke about in his interview. Ben Hinson sent me a press release with snippets of what to expect from this novel. Here are two direct quotes from his press release:

"Eteka: Rise of the Imamba is a dark, action packed thriller that follows multiple characters across 14 locations around the world, and will appeal to readers that enjoy history, suspense, fantasy and world cultures. It is an original and unusual piece of literary fiction in the fact that it seamlessly fuses African, Asian, European, and American cultures into an unforgettable reading experience."

"The Cold War sets the stage for various proxy wars, nationalist movements, and covert missions across Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas. Out of the Tumult will emerge a warrior. Though his heart is in the right place, he knows that he must make a tough decision that will determine his fate - and the fate of generations to come." 

Ben Hinson
VISIT Ben Hinson's website at www.benhinson.com or click HERE for more character revelations from the novel and for more insight on the various locations featured in "Eteka: Rise of the Imamba". You could also visit his Facebook page for more information about the author and his new novel. I'll read Eteka: Rise of the Imamba and post my review here as soon as I can.
11 Questions for Ben Hinson
[Image via Amazon]

April 21, 2016

Efuru by Flora Nwapa | Book Review

Efuru is a beautiful young woman who elopes with the young man she loves. Her elopement is a source of embarrassment for her father and the rest of her family especially in a traditional society that prides itself on propriety. Everyone can see that her husband is lazy and underserving of her except Efuru. Eventually after a lot of hard work they are able to put together enough money to settle all the marriage rites required of them traditionally. Soon there are rumors that Efuru is barren because even after the passing of a year she still hasn't shown any signs of pregnancy. Efuru visits a dibia (native doctor) and even considers letting her husband marry another woman who can bear him kids. Eventually she gives birth to a girl and her worries disappear. It's not too long before Adizua abandons Efuru and his child to run off with another wealthy woman. For a while Efuru plays the faithful, long suffering, jilted wife and then she gets up and leaves the marriage. The ending of that marriage isn't the end of Efuru's woes but she remains the same all through - fearless, hardworking, always ready to get up and leave a bad situation - and that's why she survives all that life sends her way.

Efuru was published in 1966 so it turns 50 years old this year! It was really refreshing to read Efuru because I've been reading tons of African stories with globetrotting characters for the last few years. Efuru takes you back to your Igbo roots. It takes you back in time to the village with all of its superstitions, antiquated practices (female circumcision), local remedies (for seizures, fevers etc), Igbo proverbs, the delicious gossiping and shade throwing, everything. It also brought back memories of all the other authors published by the African Writers Series that I read when I was younger. I had always wanted to read Efuru but I never got around to picking it up. I was finally motivated when I heard that Onyeka Nwelue is researching, filming and producing a documentary on Flora Nwapa. She's touted as Africa's first female novelist! No documentary or movie has been made about her to my knowledge until now. Please, please, please GO TO Onyeka Nwelue's GoFundMe page and DONATE anything you can to support this very important work. His deadline to raise the money needed to finish up this project is the end of this month (9 days!). It's not enough to sit back and applaud Onyeka Nwelue's efforts. Let us all chip in to support this great project!
The Abyssinian Boy by Onyeka Nwelue - My Thoughts
The Onyeka Nwelue Effect 
305 Marguerite Cartwright Avenue, University of Nigeria Nsukka
10 Questions for Onyeka Nwelue

[Image via Wikipedia]

April 07, 2016

Fairytales for Lost Children by Diriye Osman | Book Review

"When I dare to be powerful - to use my strength in the service of my vision - it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid." That's a great quote from the late African-American author, Audre Lorde. She was a civil rights activist, a feminist, and a proud lesbian. She died in 1992 at the age of fifty-eight and it's fitting that Diriye opens his collection with a quote from her. The first short story in Fairytales for Lost Children is Watering the Imagination, a two-paged story in which a Muslim mother from Somalia reflects on her daughter's life and defends her daughter's right to live as she pleases. Tell the Sun Not to Shine is the next story and it's a moving and memorable tale about a past lover. It's a loving flashback to what was and a piercing reminder of what can never be. I finished the story, paused, and then I read it again. The titular story Fairytales of Lost Children comes next and I like it a lot. A lot. It might be my favorite of the collection. Hirsi and his family fled Somalia and have started life afresh in Kenya but the move has them constantly looking over their shoulders in fear. The other stories in this collection are: Shoga, If I Were a Dance, Pavilion, Ndambi, Earthling, Your Silence Will Not Protect You, The Other (Wo)man, and finally My Roots Are Your Roots.

All of Diriye's protagonists are gay and lesbian except the mother in Watering the Imagination. I haven't read any other African short story collection with this many gay characters and that's worth noting. I enjoyed the first four stories very much but I wasn't particularly fond of the remaining seven stories. The Other (Wo)man shocked me (I'm probably easily shocked) as I read it on the bus while going home. It was the male equivalent of a pearl-clutching moment. Sometimes in short story collections you can pick up similarities in the various stories and sometimes they seem to reflect the author's personal experiences that are known to the reader. In this collection a lot of the protagonists have the similar backgrounds and characteristics - displaced from their home country, artistic in some fashion, having a Muslim heritage, being mentally ill - that seem more familiar with each subsequent story. Those characteristics and backgrounds are structural beams upon which each story in Fairytales for Lost Children collection is built. Is that bad? No... I just had to point that out.

Diriye doesn't try to appeal to mainstream audiences by watering down the collections' homosexual content or by skimping on the details of sexual activity. Fairytales of Lost Children is outlandish and bursting with a pride that cannot be stamped out. I love the collection's title a lot but not the book cover art. I'm certain that something more creative could have been conceived in its place. Regardless, this is very important work. Michael Jackson's song, Lost Children played randomly in my head while I read this book. It's one of my favorite MJ songs and I think it's fitting too. This collection of short stories is for all the lost children out there, the LGBT family, especially those of African heritage. We're "wishing them well and wishing them home" (italicized words are lyrics from Michael Jackson's song, Lost Children). Kudos to Diriye Osman.

Image via [Amazon]