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October 2013

African Women, Indigenous Languages

Image: Wangechi Mutu, "The Storm Has Finally Made It out of Me Alhamdulillah," 2012. Collage on linoleum. Courtesy of Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects; Photo: Robert Wedemeyer

This month we present work by women writing in indigenous African languages. In these stories and poems translated from Gun, Hausa, Luganda, Runyankole-Rukiga, Tigrinya, and Wolof, writers depict characters struggling with poverty, isolation, the oppression of women, the devastation of war, and the long tradition of political corruption. Haregu Keleta's teenage girl flees an arranged marriage to join the Eritrean People's Liberation Front in the war against Ethiopia. In two tales from Uganda, Glaydah Namukasa explores three generations of a family ravaged by alcoholism, while Hilda Twongyeirwe's disaffected bureaucrat finds his loyalty at odds with his ambition. In an excerpt from her sprawling novel, Nigeria's Rahma Abdul Majid tracks the harsh lives of women in the remote villages. And Marame Gueye reveals the slyly subversive lyrics of traditional wedding songs in Senegal. In our special feature, Pablo Neruda's biographer Adam Feinstein introduces five odes by the great poet, appearing in English for the first time in Ilan Stavans's lovely translations. 

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Book Reviews

Elisa Ruotolo’s “I Stole the Rain”

Reviewed by Emma Garman

With the deceptive kick of an apertivo that slides down like water but is 80 proof, the three stories in "I Stole The Rain" promptly engaged my attention.

João Almino’s “Free City”

Reviewed by Ksenija Bilbija

"Free City" is a novel about a literary sort of redemption

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