Sunday, 13 July 2014

Winds of change

Harmattan by Gavin Weston

Winds of change storm over 12 year old Haoua living in the western part of Niger making her transition from childhood to womanhood abrupt, painful and life changing. After loosing her mother to AIDS, her caring elder brother to violence, she finds herself married of by her father to a cousin as his third wife.

Weston shows the tough, yet loving existence of her youth, her mother’s love, her participation in an education programme and the normal fun things of childhood. He build the tension slowly towards the novel’s finale, interjects patches of humour and sadness, before exposing the violent underlay of society and it’s impact on this child.

ashramblings verdict 3* a fast read, disturbing themes of violence and early marriage surfacing towards the fateful end

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Orange flares and slimey waters

Oil on Water


Helon Habila

Set in Nigeria’s Delta amidst the swamps and mangroves lit up by the orange flares from the oil exploration which has devastated the countryside, killed birds, fish and other wildlife, polluted the water courses and change for the worse the lives of many. This is the story of Rufus, a young Nigerian journalist, and his quest for the “great story” as he is goes to meet the kidnappers of the wife of an European oil executive on whose behalf he has been hired to establish that she is alive. Rufus finds his search is as murky as the maze of waterways and islands that make up the Delta .

Habila weaves the tragedies of lost lives, lost loves and the lost way of life into the oppressive tropical heat and stifling oil saturated fumes of the fight between military and militants, oil corporations and local people.

Inevitably there will be readers who compare this to Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, especially in the parts where we see power corrupting, the distortion of human relationships and the madness of those struggling against the tide. It is all there but the pace of his writing keeps it from overwhelming the reader whilst remaining at the heart of this novel.

ashramblings verdict 3*  good story line, providing good insight into the situation in the Nigerian Delta