Bitter Leaf

Many things distinguish a place, its rolling hills or turquoise waters.

Sometimes daily life can be a fairy tale. What I liked about Bitter Leaf how magic (was it even magic?) is effortlessly weaved into the story. No “Here Comes The Talking Guitar” but “the guitar whispered this and that”. This, combined with the bright colours of the village Mannobe and the people living there, almost gave me the feeling that the pages of the book were technicolour.

In a small village you can still have larger than life characters. Like Babylon, a Casanova with no roots. The twins M’elle and Mabel that seem to feed everyone in their little restaurant, the man they call Prophet or the gorgeous Jericho, a headstrong girl that left for the city, but returned for ..what exactly?

Each one of them has a problem involving love. Too much, too little, unsure where and with whom to find it. That’s the story in two sentences, it’s how they find it, which roads they walk until they find the right direction, that adds the flavour. In the meantime the reader becomes a passive village inhabitant, up to date on what boils underneath the surface.

Bitter Leaf is a village caught in paper.

Bitter Leaf, Chioma Okereke, Virago 2010

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