Tag Archive: African literature


I found this book in at airport Exclusive Books – my favourite place to buy books. I bought it because I liked the idea of reading some African chick-lit. I am not a fan of chick-lit but was interested to see how traditional African chick-lit might differ from Western chick-lit.

The starting point of the story was pretty uniquely African – it is the story of the four wives of a Zimbabwean man, Jonasi, told by each of the women. I know Africans are not the only polygamist people, but I’m mostly sure it is the only place where it is legal.

Set in Zimbabwe this is a story of wealth and indulgence I would not have associated with that country. And that in itself made it interesting. We have all forgotten that Zimbabwe was once a rich, flourishing country. By the end of the story both Zimbabwe and Jonasi have become destroyed by bad decisions, over indulgence and HIV.

I am not sure if this book really is just a silly bit of chick-lit or if a parallel could be drawn between the life of Jonasi and that of Zimbabwe itself. The uncertainty is largely because the book is not very well written. It is very chatty in style and that works for the surface story, but it does mean that if there is any deeper stuff going on, it is hard to see.

The book was also an opportunity to look at the viability of this kind of sexually open relationship in a time of HIV and Aids, but does not manage to engage in any serious comment, again because of the poor writing.

Nyathi has some terrible writing tics which should have been edited out. No one wants to read a paragraph with ‘literally’ or ‘I tell you’ three or four times. It is lazy writing and lazy editing. The same sense of chatting to your friends over a coffee could have been achieved using better writing.

I have seen reviews in which Nyathi’s writing style has been described as sassy and sexy. I must disagree. Sexy and sassy do not mean badly constructed and repetitive. The book is also unnecessarily, and sometimes erroneously, wordy. This is true of many new African writers I have found and I do understand why it happens, but editors should be pruning things a little. The editor of this book did Nyathi a disservice.

That being said it is still very readable and not particularly challenging, an easy dip into the lives of these five people that is immediately forgettable.

I will read another Zimbabwean book because I don’t think it fair that this book be a whole country’s contribution to this collection.

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Things fall apart

Chinua Achebe

I am amazed that I have not read this book before actually
how did I get through high school in Africa without having been told to read it, or stumbling upon it?

of course I have known of this book since forever, but only now have I read it too
it is one of those books that has been reviewed and commented on by far greater minds, readers and reviewers than I – so I shall simply say that I really enjoyed it and would like to know what sense it makes to non-Africans. How differently do they who have never lived here read and understand this book I wonder.

It really is the story of one man, one clan, one country, one continent. It is our story, all of us. And sadly it continues to be the story of humankind. Everyone thinks their way is best and that others would benefit if they just listened to our way of doing things. We never learn to just live and let live, do we?

Glad I made this my book from Nigeria; Achebe will go on my list of authors to be read again.

If you haven’t read it – do so. It’s not a taxing read (it reads almost like a folktale) but it is profound.