Kirkus

Critic

USA

Kirkus Reviews is an American book review magazine

Children of Blood and Bones (Legacy of Orïsha)

Date: 06 Mar 2018 Category: Books
10.0 Rating
Seventeen-year-old Zélie and companions journey to a mythic island seeking a chance to bring back magic to the land of Orïsha, in a fantasy world infused with the textures of West Africa. Dark-skinned Zélie is a divîner—someone with latent magical abilities indicated by the distinctive white hair that sets them apart from their countrymen. She saves Princess Amari, who is on the run from her father, King Saran, after stealing the scroll ...

Lagos Noir

Date: 05 Jun 2018 Category: Books
8.0 Rating
Noir comes to Africa. Abani’s introduction promises that these 13 mostly new stories—Nnedi Okorafor’s “Showlogo” already appeared in an earlier version, as did the introduction—will reveal “much more truth at the heart of this tremendous city than any guidebook, TV show, film, or book you are likely to find.” That claim is doubly disingenuous, since (1) the whole premise of Akashic’s far-flung series, that noir is different f ...

So You Want to Talk About Race

Date: 16 Jan 2018 Category: Books
9.0 Rating
Straight talk to blacks and whites about the realities of racism. In her feisty debut book, Oluo, essayist, blogger, and editor at large at the Establishment magazine, writes from the perspective of a black, queer, middle-class, college-educated woman living in a “white supremacist country.” The daughter of a white single mother, brought up in largely white Seattle, she sees race as “one of the most defining forces” in her life. Throug ...

Happiness

Date: 30 Jan 2018 Category: Books
8.0 Rating
The paths of two people—an American woman who studies the habits of urban foxes and a Ghanaian man specializing in refugee trauma—cross in London, creating a fork in the road for both. Shot through with history, biology, and psychiatry, Forna’s (The Hired Man, 2013, etc.) fourth novel is an unusual work that characteristically integrates multiple layers with fluidity. Its central characters are divorced wildlife biologist Jean Turane, in ...

Dance of the Jakaranda

Date: 07 Feb 2017 Category: Books
7.0 Rating
African colonialism is confronted in this subtle, multilayered Kenyan tale. A “massive, snakelike creature whose black head, erect like a cobra’s, pulled rusty brown boxes and slithered down the savanna”: it’s 1901, and the first train has arrived in Kenya's Rift Valley from the port of Mombasa. This is how Kimani (Before the Rooster Crows, 2004) opens this lyrical and powerful historical novel about his homeland. It’s primarily the ...

Sleep Well, Siba and Saba

Date: 19 Sep 2017 Category: Books
8.0 Rating
A picture book that will transport readers to another place and time…where dreams come to life. Siba and Saba, two brown-skinned sisters wearing cornrowed hair, constantly lose things: shoes, scarves, sweaters, and more. They do, however, always keep track of each other. When they sleep, they dream of finding all they’ve lost. But one night, when Papa sings “Sula bulungi, Siba and Saba,” as he always does, they dream not of lost things ...

Blind Spot

Date: 13 Jun 2017 Category: Books
7.0 Rating
Memoir meets museum catalog in this engagingly meandering, genre-bending collection. Cole’s debut novel, Open City (2011), is written nearly entirely as the inner monologue of his protagonist, a graduate student walking around New York. In less capable hands, this would be insufferable, but Cole (Known and Strange Things, 2016, etc.) is a master of the quiet, often nonsensical workings of the mind. Here, images take center stage: one per eve ...

What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky

Date: 01 Aug 2017 Category: Books
9.0 Rating
Nigeria serves as a prism refracting the myriad experiences of both former and current inhabitants. In two different stories in Arimah’s debut collection, characters have the supernatural ability to drain emotions from other people, for good or for ill. In “Who Will Greet You at Home,” a Nigerian woman participates in a tradition of making children out of inanimate materials and having them blessed by older women in hopes that they will ...

Blackass

Date: 09 Jul 2016 Category: Books
5.0 Rating
A Nigerian man wakes up white in Barrett’s (Love Is Power, or Something Like That, 2013) satirical update on Kafka’s The Metamorphosis.
The morning of a job interview, Furo Wariboko arises to find he’s become white overnight, this in a modest section of Lagos where many residents have “never seen red hair, green eyes, or pink nipples except on screen and on paper.” Unwilling to face his parents, with whom he lives ...

Taduno’s Song

Date: 04 Aug 2016 Category: Books
7.0 Rating
Debut novelist Atogun delivers a fine, allusive challenge to the dictators who infest Africa—and the world. Taduno, “no last name, no address, just Taduno,” is a musician in a strange land, where a letter from a lost love reaches him, pulling him back to Nigeria. He has been anonymous in that orderly place of winding streets and neat gardens. To his surprise, when he arrives in his homeland, from which he had exiled himself, he is anonym ...