On “Literally What’s Hot” OkadaBooks exposes a whole new level of African writing that defies convention and shatters the literary landscape with boldness and class. This week’s Literally What’s Hot pick is Zainab Omaki‘s 7 story instant classic “Side Babies: Contemporary Women In Africa.”
But what I got was something different. I got the wit all right but above that, I got soulful, thought-provoking monologues and conversations and foolproof life quotes (What’s a book without quotable quotes really?).
In this 7 story compilation, Zainab Omaki with such fluid grasps of literature focuses on women – their capabilities to draw strength from whatever given situation. Their ability to love truly and totally, to be consumed with the loss of this love and the sadness coupled with a lack of control that threatens to consume when their hearts are filled with loss and it seems there is nothing else to live or hope for.
“Side Babies” starts with “The Great Unlearning,” – a monologue that’s intent on unraveling the very core of our growth, forcing us to renounce generally accepted theories of life.
With “The Great Unlearning”, you are not really unlearning anything, but rather arming yourself with something more powerful than anything you might have ever been taught – the true knowledge of who you are.
Zainab, after ruffling feathers and exposing the emptiness most of us feel but are unable to express in “The Great Unlearning,” delved further into life with “Dissolution of Love and State” – a story set in the civil war era but focused on the implications of a time we only read about, on a couple whose love was tested by the circumstances governing their country.
She outlines the characters reaction to news, both good and bad, and how the instability of the nation turned their sudden love sour.
Lee’la, the one true Side Baby, takes control of a man whose major weapon is the power he wields with music. She learns to understand him, love him despite his several wives and different ideologies and finally own him even in the face of other Side Babies and detractors.
Her other stories are equally as captivating.
At the end of the book, we are left searching our minds, aligning our thinking, finding our identity and questioning the very core of the system we’ve all been taught to accept.
At the end … we accept that Zainab Omaki’s “Side Babies” is a truly enjoyable read.
Images courtesy of Bahati Books and OkadaBooks respectively.