by Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor (Granta)
African fiction is booming, Chimamanda Adichie, No Violet Bulawayo and Taiye Selasi last year alone set the bar pretty high; this year new books by Dinaw Mengestu, Sefi Atta, and Teju Cole have continued the momentum.Â Dust has received rave reviews in the US and refreshingly doesn’t fit into the migrant novel industry at all.
Dust is a story of the Oganda family, a troubled bunch who are mourning Odidi, a brilliant engineering student gunned down by police in Nairobi in 2007. His yournger sister Ajany, a gifted painter, has returned from Brazil to bury him but the murderous chaos of Kenya’s 2007 elections so disturb her, she sets out to ‘find’ him again by piecing together the last years of his life. Much of Dust is concerned with silence and the stories that don’t get cold, in a political as well as emotional sense.
Owuor is very good at slowing down and speeding up time yet her writing is often ugly in it’s imprecision. Owuor is a welcome new voice but you may wish she hadn’t buried her story under so many words.