Khadija Abdalla Bajaber

Teoksen The House of Rust: A Novel tekijä

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Tekijän teokset

The House of Rust: A Novel (2021) 104 kappaletta

Merkitty avainsanalla


Mombasa, Kenya



"Every day people are dying and being born, only men can leave those who depend on them behind and still be called brave. A woman is not praised when she suffers, she is praised for suffering in silence."

This debut novel by Kenyan author Khadija Abdalla Bajaber is a fascinating blend of allegory, fable, and coming of age, set in the author's hometown of Mombasa. Here Islamic faith abuts African myth, traditional storytelling has a rich history, and the sea is omnipresent and both watches and bears watching.

Aisha is the only child of Ali, a fisherman who is at sea more than at home, drawn by a compulsion to go beyond the boundaries even other fisherman are careful not to cross. Her mother having died when she was young, Aisha is allowed at first to accompany her father, but she fails some unspoken test and is thereafter relegated to shore and her grandmother's company. This is an uneasy pairing, as her grandmother wants her to be a docile, obedient girl eager for marriage, none of which are things that Aisha can be. When Ali fails to return from one of his fishing trips, his mother gives him five days in which to reappear or she will have him declared dead. Aisha, however, is determined to find him and bring him back.

The first half of the book is about Aisha's quest on a boat made of bones conjured by a talking cat. She faces three trials which comprise a sort of rite of passage. The novel could have ended at this point with a tidy, if fantastical, coming of age story, but instead the author explores Aisha's life after her adventure. Although Aisha was always regarded as unusual, now she has been changed in ways that make even the local wildlife wary of her. How does one live after such an adventure? What does one owe one's family and village, and what must one do to be true to oneself?

I enjoyed this unusual novel, and with the exception of a transition period between the two halves of the book, I thought the writing was interesting and fresh. The author uses local words and phrases which reinforces the sense of place. I became invested in the characters and part of me hopes the author writes a sequel so that we may learn more about Hamza and the mysterious House of Rust and Aisha's journey's out into the wider world. A promising debut novel.

The House of Rust was the inaugural winner of the Graywolf Press African Fiction Prize. Awarded to a manuscript by an author residing primarily in Africa, the award was founded "to facilitate direct access to publishing in the United States for a new generation of African writers."
… (lisätietoja)
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labfs39 | 5 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Nov 23, 2023 |
There was far more in this book than I had prepared myself to read, and I may have missed some. There's a wonderful confluence of mythology and bildungsroman that questions both while centering a compelling heroine. Really special. Could maybe use some structural editing or just a more focused reader.
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Kiramke | 5 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Oct 28, 2023 |
Wow! What a great book. Magical realism, the soul of a city revealed in both it human and non-human inhabitants, a quest and soul searching by a strong female lead,...Everything I love to read in a book. And a new African woman writer showing me a culture and history I would never know if I stuck to reading the Western canon. I can't wait to see what Bajaber comes up with next. Thanks to Graywolf Press for publishing authors like her.
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jveezer | 5 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Dec 19, 2022 |
I liked the first half pretty well but then it kind of meandered. I wanted to like more than I did but had a hard time finishing it. Still very creative.
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kslade | 5 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Dec 8, 2022 |




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