We wrap up book news for our readers in our regular Book Digest segment with books from Hemley Boum, Fiona Williams, Blessing Musariri, and Femi Kayode.
All That It Ever Meant by Blessing Musariri
Publisher: Norton Young Readers
Date: January 3, 2023
Genre: Young Adult
Where to find it: Norton
Blessing Musariri is an award-winning author of short stories, children’s stories, radio and screenplays, and contemporary adult fiction. Her work has also been published by the Guardian, Granta, and Poetry International. She lives in Harare, Zimbabwe.
All That It Ever Meant
Family, grief, ghosts, and a mystery: this clever and compelling young adult novel heralds a masterful new voice from Zimbabwe.
Mati’s family is reeling from the death of Mati’s mother. Her Baba has drawn into himself, her sister Chichi is rebelling, and her young brother Tana is desperate for love and normalcy.When Chichi pulls her worst stunt yet, Baba uproots the family from their home in England for an extended camping holiday in their native Zimbabwe. Along for the trip is Meticais, a fabulously attired gender-neutral spirit—or ghost? or imaginary friend?—who only Mati can see and converse with. Guided by Meticais’s enigmatic advice and wisdom, Mati must come to terms with her grief and with the difficulty of living between two cultures, while the family must learn to forge their way in a world without their monumental mother.Full of captivating characters and stunning plot twists, All That It Ever Meant delivers a nuanced and unforgettable story of grief, love, and family.
La Reve Du Pecheur by Hemley Boum
Hemley Boum is a Cameroonian writer who has received the Grand prix littéraire d’Afrique noire and won the Prix Les Afriques in 2016. Boum studied Social Sciences at the Catholic University of Central Africa in Yaoundé and international trade at the Lille Catholic University.
La Reve Du Pecheur (Google Translate: The Fisherman’s Dream)
“In the plane that took me far away, I had the feeling of breathing deeply for the first time in my life and I cried with relief. You can die a thousand deaths, a little at a time, to try to save my loved one in spite of himself. I had offered Dorothée my body as a shield, my complicit silence, the attentive breath of my childhood nights and as I grew up the money that my thefts brought me, without succeeding in anchor her to life. I thought I would never leave her but when events forced me to do so, I barely hesitated. It was her or me.” Zack fled Cameroon at eighteen, abandoning his mother, Dorothée, to her fate and her secrets. Having become a clinical psychologist in Paris, married and father of a family, he is caught up in the past while the life he has built for himself is failing from all sides… A few decades later, his grandfather Zacharias , a coastal fisherman, sees his traditional way of life disrupted by a major logging company. He dreams of another future for his family… With these two cleverly intertwined stories, Hemley Boum creates a powerful and luminous fresco which illuminates both the recesses of consciousness and the mysteries of transmission.
The House of Broken Bricks by Fiona Williams
Date: January 18, 2024
Genre: Literary fiction
Where to find it: Faber
Fiona Williams holds a BSc (Hons) in Biological Sciences from the University of Westminster and an MA with Distinction in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University. She is the winner of the 2021 Bridport Prize, Peggy Chapman-Andrews First Novel Award. Originally from South-East London, she now lives with her family on the Somerset Levels.
The House of Broken Bricks
Ain’t nothing wrong with being broken. Nothing at all. You’re like these houses, not a whole brick in em and look how strong they are.
As Tess traces the sunrise over the floodplains, light that paints the house a startling crimson, she yearns for the comforting chaos of life as it once was. Instead of Max and Sonny tracking dirt through the kitchen – Tess and Richard’s ‘rainbow twins’ – Tess absorbs the quiet. The nights draw in, the soil cools and Richard fights to get his winter crops planted rather than deal with the discussion he cannot bear to have.
Secrets and vines clamber over the broken red bricks and although its inhabitants seem to be withering, in the damp, crumbling soil – Sonny knows it – something is stirring . . . As the seasons change, and the cracks let in more light, the family might just be able to start to heal.
This is the story of a broken family, what they see and what they cannot say laid bare in their overlapping perspectives. It is a tale of life in the cracks, because in the space for acceptance, of passing and of laying to rest, the possibilities of new energy, light and love, are seeded.
Gaslight: The second Philip Taiwo investigation by Femi Kayode
Publisher: Bloomsbury, Raven Books
Date: November 9, 2023
Genre: Crime fiction
Where to find it: Bloomsbury,
Femi Kayode trained as a clinical psychologist in Nigeria, before starting a career in advertising. He has created and written several prime-time TV shows. His debut novel, Lightseekers, was selected as a Best Crime Novel of the Month by The Times, Sunday Times, Independent, Guardian, Observer, Financial Times and Irish Times, was longlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger Award and was a Waterstones Thriller of the Month. He lives in Windhoek, Namibia with his family.
Gaslight: The second Philip Taiwo investigation
Bishop Jeremiah Dawodu, pastor of a Nigerian megachurch, has been arrested and charged with the murder of his wife, Folasade, the ‘First Lady’ of the church. The arrest was public, humiliating and sensational – sending shockwaves through Lagos – but throughout it all, Bishop Dawodu maintains his innocence.
Philip Taiwo, an acclaimed investigative psychologist, is asked by his sister, a member of the church’s congregation, to clear the pastor’s name. With no actual body, it looks to be a simple case and despite Philip’s dislike of organised religion, he agrees to take it on as a favour to his sister. Then the First Lady’s body is found in a nearby lake just as Philip’s beloved family come under attack from someone warning him off the case, and he realises that nothing to do with this investigation will be straightforward.
Was it murder or suicide? Is someone framing the Bishop or the First Lady?
Gaslight is the sensational follow up to Femi Kayode’s acclaimed debut, Lightseekers, picked as a Book of the Month by the Times, Sunday Times, Independent, Guardian, Observer, Financial Times and Irish Times.