Saturday, June 08, 2013

Additions to the Library

EPP Bookshop Legon
After a thorough discussion of A Question of Power by Bessie Head on the WPG's Twitter Book Discussion, I decided to read more of her works. I was fascinated by the depth of this discussion and how wide the story is and how varied the issues people took from the book. In addition to Bessie Head, I added one more book to Soyinka's pile and the WPG book for its discussion in June. The following therefore are the books purchased:
  1. Kongi's Harvest by Wole Soyinka. Soyinka's plays are not easy to breakthrough. However, they are still worth the read. From the blurb: Kongi's Harvest is to be the official of the Five Year Plan. President Kongi has the spiritual leader King Danlola under preventive detention. He is anxious that Danlola should be seen by the people at the festival to bring him the new yam with his own hands. With Danlola and Kongi increasingly involved in image building, the festival comes to a shattering climax. [...]
  2. Tales and Tenderness and Power by Bessie Head. I picked this because of the what I gleaned from A Question of Power. Bessie's understanding of power relations is marvelous and unfathomable. Tales of Tenderness draws on writings which have roots in the author's own experience in Botswana. It reflects her fascination with the country's people and their history and her identification with individuals and their conflicting emotions. 'She enjoyed observing, smiling, forgiving or raging and then recording.' These tales reveal her affinity with human goodness and tenderness and her fear and resentment of the misuse of power. [...]
  3. The Cardinals with Meditations and Short Stories by Bessie Head. Bessie Head seems to leave a part of herself in every book she writes. Her experiences are found scattered in them and her role as a victim of this discriminatory world coupled with other equally unfair variables have expanded her understanding of this world. This is Mouse's world, but she is blind to it, living only for her books. A job as a reporter on African Beat forces her to open her eyes. Newsroom sexism combines with everyday stories of racial repression and political muck-raking to radically alter Mouse's perception. But it is her relationship with the cynical newshound Johnny that is the greatest challenge to her loveless solitude.
  4. When the Rain Clouds Gather by Bessie Head. Again, like all her novels, the setting is a rural village in Botswana where she settled after she left South Africa with a no-reentry visa and where she remained stateless for fifteen years. In the heart of rural Botswana, the poverty-stricken village of Golema Mmidi is a haven to exiles from far and wide. A South African political refugee and an Englishman join forces to revolutionise the villagers' traditional farming methods, but their task is fraught with hazards as the pressures of tradition, opposition from the local chief and the unrelenting climate threaten to divide and devastate the fragile community.
  5. The Palm-Wine Drinkard by Amos Tutuola. The Palm-Wine Drinkard is WPG's selected book for the month of June. This is a fantastic tall tale of the Palm-Wine Drinkard. ... brief, thronged, grisly and bewitching... written in English by a West African... Nothing is too prodigious or too trivial to put down in this tall, devilish story - Dylan Thomas in the Observer.
Perhaps reading these would enable me better understand Bessie Head, her works and her travails. A Question of Power - that phenomenal book - is comparable to most of the exalted books that discusses human psyche. For Head, this is more relevant not only because she understands what she writes, but because she also suffered it and overcame it. If her works have not garnered the excitement all such Kafkaesque literature obtain, it wouldn't be because it is less exciting, or that she is a woman. It would be because she is African and African literature are also limited to Africa. For instance, to digress, Achebe is considered the greatest African writer, even though his works have world impact.

I will be bringing you, my readers, what I think of the books as and when I read them.

4 comments:

  1. I am reading When Rain Clouds Gather and will continue with The Cardinals as I'm toying with the idea of a Bessie Head week from the July 6th to July 12th. Happy reading!

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    Replies
    1. Kinna can we organise a period to unroll these posts. i have read When Rain Clouds Gather and Tales of Tenderness and Power. I will be reading The Cardinals next after The Karamazov Brothers (which I'm currently reading). But July 6 (her birthday) is a Saturday and blogposts on Saturdays hardly receive patronage. Let's talk.

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    2. I have a Question of Power in my Power!

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    3. My favourite of Bessie Head's novels.

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