Prose

I won “Homegoing” by Yaa Gyasi and I read the heaven out of it!

I have not read a mountain of books, but I’ve read a lot of the ones I have come across. I’ve never won anything before, I think. So I was pretty excited when BrunchoverBooks informed me that I had won a copy of Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi.

I instantly fell in love with the book when it got to me last Sunday afternoon and paraded it all over my Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts. Yeah, I’m that vain.

First, I thought the bag it came in was super cute. And the book! It was such a happy color. img_20161120_144406

My first impression was that a lot of work must have gone into it. When I began to flip the pages, it was as if the words were jumping and screaming into my face read me read me. I’m not even laying it on thick. I immediately knew I was going to love it. It was going to be food. I was going to savor every sentence. Every phrase. Every word. To the last letter.

“History is storytelling…We believe the one who has power. He is the one who gets to write the story. So when you study history, you must always ask yourself, Whose story am I missing? Whose voice was suppressed so that this voice could come forth? Once you have figured that out, you must find that story too. From there, you begin to get a clear, yet still imperfect, picture.”

Homegoing is history merged with present day traced from the eighteenth-century with the story of Effia of Fanteland as the opening, followed by Esi of Asante. Effia and Esi are half-sisters, although they never get to meet. Effia marries an Englishman (the marriage is arranged) and goes to live in the Cape Coast Castle. Unknown to her, her half-sister Esi, is imprisoned in the women’s dungeon and is later sold into slavery.

The rest of the book trails the bloodline of both women; travelling through time while revealing, chapter by chapter, each descent until the story eventually converges back home.

The chapters in Homegoing are like standalone stories; each is somewhat conclusive, (because each chapter is built around a character and finishes its own story) yet in some way, not fully independent of the main story.

There are a lot of names, and they are not just passing through. Each has its own story trailed from either Effia or Esi, so you want to make sure you remember all of the names because you are going to build on them in subsequent chapters. It’ll be good to get some stick on pads or something to write on (I prefer stick on pads).

PLEASE. DO. NOT. WRITE. IN. THE. BOOK. I love it too much.

Homegoing leaves a lot of grim feelings. It has anger, violence, death, horrors, and fear. But it is also an incredible story; beautiful, sometimes haunting, but yes, expressively and captivatingly beautiful.

Being so richly told, I could put face to a lot of the characters and match them with history especially in the story of the Yaa Asantewaa War.

My favorite person in the book was/is Akua, aka Crazy Woman; haunted by a firewoman, ends up burning her two daughters to death, and leaving a horrid scar on her son’s face. Her story is disturbing, sad yet strong, and she moved me in many ways more than the others.

On the downside though, I would have liked to return to the stories of some of the characters in the book, but the structure makes it impossible because after each chapter, there’s only a building on so you’re kind of forced out of one storyline to the next.

Aside that, it is such great story-telling by Yaa Gyasi! Beautiful exploration of how slave trade affects one family and what it costs it. A lot of research must have gone into this book, obviously. I was in no hurry to finish it, yet I couldn’t put it down. I’m pretty much not getting over it anytime soon.

You really should read this in 2016 if you haven’t yet.

 

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Prose

‘The Partner’ by John Grisham (A legally thrilling, but ultimately annoying 468-page book)

Discovering an old novel I was yet to read languishing around the house was a pleasant surprise which tickled and roused all my reading buds. Since I’ve been pushed, somewhat, into a lot of ‘me’ time lately, I can use all of such ‘lost and found’ books, and every so often movies too. In fact, I’ve been alternating between the two for a while now.  So yeah, whiles social media has been bustling with US Elections and the Trump effect, I’ve been busy on the yellow pages. Let me remind you again that my favorite kind of books are the ones with the yellow pages.

Honestly, I did a little dance when I found John Grisham’s The Partner. I was happy I had found something ‘new’ to read.

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Lost and Found Book! Yay! 😀 😀

This is the first book I have read from him, and I can promise that if John pulls another stunt like that on me again, I will head straight to his website or wherever I can find him and spell my rage in caps and exclamation marks with all the swear words I can find.

Alright. That settled, let me give you a synopsis of this legally thrilling, but ultimately annoying 468-page book that got me all grumpy last night.

Patrick Lanigan, a young lawyer and newly made partner of a law firm, gets in an accident and dies, leaving behind a wife and a daughter.

Well, so it seems until he comes back to life as Danilo Silva.

Apparently, Patrick was tired of his bad marriage to a superficial and cheating-from-day-one wife, with a daughter he knew wasn’t his. He was stuck in a job he hated and when he covertly discovered that he was going to be fired, faked his own death and bolted with ninety-million dollars of his firm’s money.

With such an amount of money to spend, life could be luxuriant. But it came at a cost; constantly being on the run and fearful of one’s own shadows.

As Patrick foresaw in his meticulous plan, the past finally catches up with him and he is brought home where everyone impatiently waits for a pound of his flesh. But not before the million-dollar question is asked, ‘where is the money’? There are other charges leveled against him; charges of capital murder because if Patrick is alive, then whose incinerated body was found in the car?

The trial is to be one helluva show, and the prosecutors in for one shocking ride!

Now skipping to the part of this book that got all sorts of angry chemicals released into my bloodstream, the end. No, I mean the end of the book. The part where we all want the happily ever after or at least, a satisfying twist. But dear John had something else planned for me.

Seriously John, where the hell did Eva disappear to?!

Such a cliffhanger! I can think of only one way this story could should have ended. That is, Patrick walks, gets reunited with Eva, they have a dozen babies and live happily ever after.

Mr. Grisham, how can you take away this moment in what could have been a perfect story? I mean how can you do this?  I strongly demand the end of this story be rewritten or I will write it myself. After all, there’s still two and a half blank pages left at the back. Humph!!!

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Rewrite the story. Please 😦

But folks, outside all this bamboozling, The Partner is quite interesting. Grab a copy if you haven’t read it yet. And when you get to that ‘unfortunate’ end, yeah, I thought so too!

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Guest Blogger, Prose

Guest Blog: Amma Konadu, literary enthusiast, columnist and editor-in-chief at theampedhub.com

I’m super excited to host my first guest blogger. I’ve not met Amma yet, but for a long time, I followed her posts keenly. Her lines would usually carry more than the ordinary weight of words, and I wondered…who, was behind that awesome blog I loved getting email notifications from.

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So I happen to meet her on twitter and heck, we just had to talk. When she sent me her post, reading became very difficult. I would cringe as the words got sour. It was like painful recollections that anyone could relate to; habits, often not the good ones.

In the little part of my existence, I recall my own mother perhaps twice or a couple of times more, ask me to desist from something before it got too late. And now I wonder, what if it had?

Well, I give you Amma Konadu’s Old Habits…die. I hope this will be the first of many awesome future guest posts. Do leave us a comment on what you think.

 

OLD HABITS…DIE

 

I clearly remember my mother seated across from me on the other bed in my room, bent from nerve pain coursing through the back of her neck, down to the tips of the fingers on her left hand.

“You will suffer”

She half-squinted and winced after. It was not the kind of ‘you will suffer’ that came out as an accidental curse when a mother was very upset with their wayward children, she was stating a truth.

“You chose change, and so you will suffer. But don’t give up.”                                     

Now I am standing outside the morgue wondering why it is I am still there on the corridor floor, barely covered, my jaw crushed in, leaving my head in an awkward tilt halfway down. I was a beautiful woman; my friends won’t be able to identify what is left of me on that cold floor. If the gentleman in the stained white coat would just look up, perhaps I can get him to be kind enough to cover my head.

I remember. She left me in that room that Sunday afternoon, alone; with the message she had come to deliver.

“But don’t give up…”

I don’t remember saying I wouldn’t. I may have promised…I may…

There is no way anyone will come claim what I am seeing on that corridor. Is it really me? The other half of my head is so bloated I can’t recognize myself.

Why won’t he cover me up? Or maybe I should step in and do it myself. Salvage some dignity for my lifeless mocked self.

“If you go back to the old habits, the world knows I have a daughter…but I will have a daughter no more. It is good, you chose change, and so you will suffer. But don’t give up.”

I nodded, fighting tears; heavy with shame and guilt and a deep, deep need to unburn broken bridges.

I followed the truck here. The truck they threw me in. What. Is. Man? The wailing was not for me…it was for other lives lost that my gory death had triggered in the minds of those who stood by weeping. I sat perched on one side of the bucket of the truck, my eyes tightly shut. The bleeding hadn’t stopped…the breathing had.

“Did you not think of me? Your father?”

When will the earth finally open and swallow me? It’s been close to 4 hours now and I am still here.

“You have your back to an open grave, right at its mouth. You can’t go back.”

My left thigh is also exposed; bloody. Did the bus that hit me not drag me about 50m before it stopped? My skirt completely off me by then? My genitals aptly exposed at my death? Someone play me a sad tune and send me on my grave way.

“A woman’s love is deepest for her first and last children. The first is where the love of a mother sprung from…it gushed out, teeming. The last? The river bed ends there…love flows down and fills it to the brim, even overflows. Every mother loves her last so much more. Nothing can change that.”

Kindly…sing. A sweet, sad, song.

Where did the bus come from? Or better, where did I come from? Where Mama wouldn’t have me be.

My panties stuffed in my pocket, earphones shoved in my ears. Did the driver honk? Did I watch? I was by the roadside in a second, watching in knowing silence as the bus colored the road with a trail of my flesh and blood. The sound of metal screeching, bones crushing, blood squirting…and the smell of burnt tires and skin…and my genitals, intact, clean-shaven, laid open like an invitation.

Is hell here yet? Is that my mother rolling in the dirt screaming?

Mama!

You said you wouldn’t care if I died…

But wait…

I am your last child.

 

About the Author: Amma Konadu is a young Ghanaian/Nigerian writer, literary enthusiast and an advocate for positive social change, using literature and creative writing both as a window and a part of the solution. Her other loves are music (classical, choral mostly) and gourmet delights! She blogs at ammakonadu.wordpress.com

 

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