Sunday, April 30, 2017

Ten essential African novels

Publishers Weekly asked five novelists, each from a different African country and with a new novel out this spring, to select two of their favorite African novels. One of Odafe Atogun's picks:
Season of Crimson Blossoms by Abubakar Adam Ibrahim

Season of Crimson Blossoms is a beautiful-sad story told with great artistry. Against a backdrop of tragic family histories brought about by ruthless politicking and religious extremism, Binta, a devout middle-aged Muslim widow, and Reza, a young weed-smoking gangster, begin an illicit affair.

Haunted by the painful memory of loss in a hypocritical society which uses religion to promote hatred and violence, Binta experiences a primal desire to save her lover from a life of crime. But is it love or the quest for redemption that emboldens her to listen to her heart for once? A combination of both, maybe?

Whatever, it is an affair that foretells grave danger, for Binta especially. But already held a prisoner by the hopeless yearnings of her own heart, she finds it impossible to apply the brakes. And as the affair festers and consumes her and her lover, Binta realizes that she is living in a society that will never allow her to find love, even if she chooses to steal it. As for Reza, he is confined by society never to find fulfillment, not even redemption.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue