Book Review: How To Cook Your Husband The African Way by Calixthe Beyala

19456623

 

“I’m asking you to control his desires, to be the zapper of his zipper, the oil in his motor, the cable of his printer, the laces of his shoes.”

A STORY OF LOVE, FOOD AND ITS EXTREMITIES

From Porcupine with the nuts of wild mangoes to Boa in banana leaves, a devoted Aissatou is hell bent on cooking her way to the heart of the man—Bolobolo— she loves. Mr Bolobolo is a man from Mali who lives with his mother whom ‘is losing her marbles’ and her beloved pet chicken. She starts cooking and sending the meals to Bolobolo. At first, he hesitates, but later finds himself deep in the plate of whatever meal Aissatou has cooked. Bolobolo succumbs to the powerful force of good food and enters relationship with her. However, in this case, the age-long saying that the way to a man’s heart is his stomach loses credibility. Although it does a part of the job and wonderful things to a man’s palate and stomach, the heroine comes to the realization that food isn’t enough to keep a man.

This is an ultra-modern rom-com (a fusion of romance and comedy) story set in Paris. Beyala’s writing style in showing us the different dimensions of the human mind is noteworthy. She makes use of the first person point of view, thereby making the story very relatable and personal. You feel the heat Aissatou is feeling, preparing her meals and how eager she is in getting Mr Bolobolo. In addition, using satire the author dabs into other issues such as racism, identity and sexism amongst others.

This book will make you hungry. Beyala accompanies every chapter with mouth-watering recipes. The use of vivid graphic imagery by the author is excellent and this way the reader does not feel alienated.

“Food is the stuff of life, the same as life. Today it makes for more unity than justice. It’s maybe the only thing that will bring peace and reconciliation to humankind.”

So, can one really cook one’s husband the African way or any other way? Is it feasible? The answer to those questions is what Beyala has tried to trash out in her book.

The book is significant in many ways. First, it brings out the magical power of food. The author has successfully lectured us on how food can soften a man’s heart. From start to finish, we witness Aissatou winning all her battles with different kinds of meals.

“Because to be white you’ve got to be thin… A beautiful woman is flat as a pancake, thin as a rake or a slice of Melba toast. Melba toast snaps easily. Circle crackle. I measure my life by my waist” Continue reading

Advertisements

Book Review: Segu by Maryse Condé

Camera_21_07_2016__20_24.jpg

 

“One day you’ll come to Segu. You’ve never seen a town like it. The towns here were created by the white men—they were born out of the trade in human flesh… But Segu—Segu is like a woman you can only possess by force.” Segu p.417

Segu is a brilliant piece written by Condé, which is rich in historical facts. Originally written in French and was translated by Barbara Ray—Kudos to the translator! Without her, I might not have had the opportunity to read this beautiful work of art. It was recommended to me last year when I put up a post about some of my favourite books; so glad I bought and read it.

The book has 490 pages and is divided into five parts. It begins in Segu (situated in present-day Mali), the capital of the 18th century Bambara Empire and in between, you get to visit distant lands. Through the desert you find your way to Timbuktu (also situated in present-day Mali), have brief encounters with the Ashanti Empire (present-day Ghana), a bit of flirtation with 19th century London, you even get to spend some time in Freetown and trace the edges of Lagos! (Situated in present-day Nigeria). How beautiful is that?

Continue reading

Non- Fiction: Sweet Chocolate & It’s Dark Tale

“For most of us, chocolate is an indulgence synonymous with pleasure, but behind the sweet image of the cocoa bean there is a long history of exploitation, corruption, greed and slavery.”~ Bitter Chocolate, Carol Off

I didn’t plan to do a book review anytime soon but reading these two books for my dissertation to get background knowledge (Child Labour on Cocoa plantations in Cote D’Ivoire and the Harkin-Engel Protocol), was an eye-opener for me. If you are interested in gaining new knowledge or knowing more about the chocolate industry, where most of the cocoa produce come from, as well as situation of the producers, you might want to take a look at both ‘Bitter Chocolate: Investigating the Dark Side of the World’s Most Seductive Sweet’ by Carol Off (2006) and ‘Chocolate Nations: Living and Dying for Cocoa in West Africa’ by Orla Ryan (2011). They have their shortcomings (check out academic reviews on them) but you gain an insightful knowledge on certain alarming issues. The issue of dirty politics and exploitation (in all forms) in Africa, Latin America and other parts of the world today is not new to most of us but there are people who are not aware of the rate at which these things happen. I like chocolate but I never thought such sweet treat could have a twisted dark tale to its existence till I started doing my readings. I try so hard not think that our world isn’t messed up but the sickening truth is that it is and the denial of certain atrocities is saddening.

2016-02-24 20.34.16

Continue reading

On Broken Glass by Alain Mabanckou

Screen Shot 2015-10-04 at 17.23.06

“… Broken Glass, and when the sky is too blue, like that, you have to remember that one day something might come along and turn it grey, if the sun shines too brightly it can kill your love…” Continue reading

Book Review With Book Bae Mahmoudat

Screen Shot 2015-10-10 at 17.59.44

“… Death as a concept is not special. Its ordinariness is, in fact, amusing.”- Ayo Sogunro

The Book

It is a collection of 14 short stories accompanied with poems before each chapter. The book revolves around societal injustices, corruption and explores how it is embedded in the Nigerian society. The stories move seamlessly between recurring issues from upheavals in Nigerian politics to troubles faced on daily basis and their damaging consequences. Continue reading

Some Of My Faves

2015-01-21 20.30.47

Achebe’s Things Fall Apart is a classic  and personally I believe it’s a book anyone can pick up and enjoy. It is one of the topmost books that made me fall in love with African Literature. The characters felt real and relatable especially if you are of Nigerian descent because this could have been the story of your ancestors. The novel was memorable due to the wide use of proverbs and folktales, traditional songs, elements of superstitions that were interwoven into the story. Continue reading