Books

Tell me a Riddle

Confession: I had never heard of Tillie Olsen until I bumped into a short story competition with her name attached. Some google followed, in which I found this short story “I stand here ironing”  http://producer.csi.edu/cdraney/2011/278/resources/olsen_ironing.pdf and I had ordered my own copy of “Tell me a riddle” (for those wondering: I order my books conveniently
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The Rubbish Dump – Steve Chimombo

A little boy (too young to read, but going to school) living next to the rubbish dump and close to the international airport watches the big plane arrive and leave every day. An old man takes the rubbish to the smelly pit, every day. They share the same questions, noted in a beautiful paragraph, about
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Weaverdom – Tijan M. Sallah

Raise hands,  who was thinking it was about birds? It is, until it isn’t anymore. Instead we get painted a picture of a horrible species trained in -and excelling in- taking and no giving. Impactful. Spiteful. Masterly. Dark.
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We don’t know what we’re doing – Thomas Morris

Somewhere in the ancient history of 2015 this collection of short stories was published, and praised, and Mr Thomas Morris, (educated in Welsh only, as you will find noted everywhere) was asked to give his opinion on all sorts of things writing. Possibly rightly so. It was then that I read some of his clever
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The Man – E.B. Dongala

The father-of-the-nation, the enlightened guide, and savior of the people, the helmsman, the president for life, the commander-in-chief of the armed forces and the beloved father of the people has been killed. The army is on a hunt. One man has done it, and done it alone. One after the other village is brutally raided
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The prophetess – NjabuloS. Ndebele

A boy is sent to a prophetess to get a bottle of tap-waterblessed, so it may cure her from whatever illness she has. The boy doesn’t get a name, nor an age, but through his eyes we observe the inconsistencies that live in all of us: a nurse-mother who believes Holy Water will do what medicines
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Road Block – Jamal Mahjoub

Curfew and road blocks paint a bigger picture in this short story that’s classic in set up: a set time and space, two to three characters and a hurdle to overcome. Sadly, despite high stakes (there’s a bayonet, there’s a gun, there’s a crime) the story doesn’t punch in the stomach.
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Government by Magic Spell – Saida Hagi-Dirie Herzi

The opening line: “When she was ten, Halima learned that she was possessed by a Jinni.” This makes Halima famous in no-time and as chance will have it, around the same time her clan is getting more and more powerful. Before long, Halima acts the part. This eventually takes her to the city, where the
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Vacancy for the post of Jesus Christ – Kojo Laing a short story from Ghana

A golden lorry is lowered from the skies and people crowd the streets to see what’s happening. The wise, the skeptical, the poor, the rich, the scientists, the child, they all have a spot on reaction to the lorry, and the message that Jesus has been killed, and that there’s a vacancy for the post
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Een nacht in Lissabon – Erich Maria Remarque

Groot was mijn verbazing toen ik bij de eerste zin (“Ik staarde naar het schip.”) al geboeid las. Amper drie zinnen verder, (bij “het zorgeloze licht”) was ik onder de indruk. Hier is Een Schrijver aan het werk. De nacht in Lissabon was ooit zeer nieuw in opzet, en spraakmakend door de individualisering die eruit
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Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun (a novel)

By Sarah Ladipo Manyika 118 pages of loveliness. Why? Hard to write down in a few words: you wouldn’t initially say, but this book is different from any you’ve ever read. Not because it has a Nigerian heroine who’s living in America (think Americanah) not because she’s old (think A man called Ove) and not
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Homesick for another world

Moshfegh has been compared to Flannery O’Connor, Jim Thompson, Shirley Jackson and Patricia Highsmith but her voice and her mastery of language and tone are unique. One of the most gifted and exciting young writers in America, is what people say. Admitted, I loved the stories so much. A breath of fresh air, those odd
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De zevende functie van taal (original language: French: La septième function de langage)

By Laurent Binet A novel for people who love language, and have some previous knowledge of Derrida, Bourdieu, Semantics and Semiotics. It holds between a thriller and a novel.
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There are Jews in my house.

Lara Vapnyar knows how to write a setting, describing a time, a place, and as such it was nice to be in Russia (mostly Moscow) for the duration of the collection. A bit too spelled out, to my liking, at times, but worth borrowing from your library or friend if you can.
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Autumn

By Ali Smith If Autumn didn’t win the Man Booker 2017, how incredibly god must the actual winner be? Is this a novel? A novella? It’s unlike anything I read before, it’s got beautiful questions in it, breathtaking rhythm, and once in a while parts that I just don’t get completely, but that’s fine, because
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Music for Wartime: stories

By Rebecca Makkai So here’s the thing: I wanted to love all of it. Because of the interview I read with Rebecca (that landed this book on the TBR list in the first place) because of her journey towards publishing this collection, and because, well, it’s short stories – they should be praised, more people
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Drie dochters van Eva (in English: Three daughters of Eve)

By Elif Shafak A novel full of big ideas and questioning thoughts, based partly in Istanbul and partly in Oxford. Big ideas and professors in one book are a risky combination, and at times it slips, but the uncommon, unexpected plot twist made up for that.  How many books do we know that mix past
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