Everfair

Lisette Toutournier sighed.

Well, it could make an amazing looking TV-show. The world building is there, it’s bright and diverse (both in surroundings as represented race and sexuality). It’s just the plot that ..not really isn’t.

Everfair is the name of the reclaimed, bought Congo and later parts of surrounding countries. With steampunk elements and money from societies and countries world wide, Africans, Europeans, Americans and Asians build up a country without colonial rule. Cool, original, awesome idea.

And that’s about it. The author seems to be in a hurry to showcase the rise and fall of this young country, hopping ahead in time like she was told not to use too much pages on character development. The story only gets sadder because of this as well, pulling the reader out of the freshly created fantasy.

I’m very fond of stand alone books, definitely in the fantasy series, but maybe Everfair could have done better with being a two-parter.

Everfair, Nisi Shawl, Tor 2016

Ayanda and the Mechanic

105 min.

I probably mentioned before how location and people used can inject originality into a (stale) story.
Because yes, Ayanda is a plucky, stubborn young woman who needs to Let Go and Learn Things, and has love right in front of her, but can’t see it.

ayanda-and-the-mechanic-posterBut instead of this being a white story in the USA, it’s a black story in South Africa. And these facts aren’t even the main reason for all the added colour, that’s Ayanda’s amazing outfits.

Ayanda tries to keep her deceased father’s garage up and running while her family is less than supportive. Things happen, tears are shed and so on. Ayanda and the Mechanic is just a little bit too long but still leaves you with a happy heart. It’s so nice to see women prosper and learn.

Ayanda and the Mechanic, ARRAY 2015

Black

95 min.

Zoals ik al vaker heb vermeld, een geweldig goed boek of film zijn niet per sé makkelijk te reviewen. Waarom was het zo geweldig, tenslotte? En zal iemand die niet mijn achtergrond en mijn interesses heeft zich er ook in kunnen vinden?

a team productions
A Team Productions

Black is het Romeo en Julia verhaal, maar deze keer zijn de vechtende families jongerengangs in Brussel. Allemaal Afrikanen, zoals de Romeo Merwan zegt in het begin van de film, maar tussen Marokko en midden-Afrika gaapt een leegte groter dan de Grand Canyon. Het gaat om respect en de beste werkplekken hebben en vooral de enige zijn die er toe doet.

En lang kan dat naast elkaar bestaan, Brussel is groot genoeg. Maar wanneer het mis gaat, is het ook als natuurgeweld, alles vernietigend.

Hoofdpersonen Merwan en Mervala/Marie-Evelyne hebben een chemie waardoor je vanaf de eerste ontmoeting het beste voor ze wenst. Misschien gaat het deze keer wel goed, kijk toch eens naar die kalverliefde. Zal het dan deze keer misschien ..?

Verschillende Brusselse bioscopen wilden de film niet tonen omdat ze bang waren dat jongeren de verkeerde ideeën zouden krijgen. Ik denk dat dat juist de test zou moeten zijn: als je na Black nog charme en avontuur in de gang ziet, kun je het best gelijk opgesloten worden.

Black, Caviar ~A Team Productions 2015

Habibi

Wow.

I wanted to read this for a very long time and I’m so pleased that it was completely to my satisfaction. It was beautiful, exciting, educational. And with about 700 pages, really not ‘just a quick comic’.

But what is it about? Where to start. It’s about two people that society has rejected, about the creation of the Quran and the science that came with it, about being on the fray while living in dreams and myths.

From time to time, especially during the darker, more confusing moments, it reminded me of the Sandman Chronicles. In those, there’s beauty in darkness as well, situations that leave you feeling a little bit unhinged.

If you are looking for a beautifully drawn book that will affect you and tickle your mind, this is for you.

Habibi, Craig Thompson, Pantheon 2011

God Is Dead

Disguised as a young Dinka woman, God came at dusk to a refugee camp in the North Darfur region of Sudan.

I wonder what made people angrier about this book. The fact that God shows in a woman, an African woman, or him being without any real power. I’m sure there was many a pearl necklace clutched. But is the death of God in war-torn Africa a gimmick, or does the story bring something to the image of how the world looks at (Christian) religion?

First of all, God Is Dead is closer to a collection of stories, the death being what drives but the fall out definitely being the direction they are taken in. Except for one recurring character, all stories are independent. They are about losing not just religion but faith, a purpose, and how society is clambering for replacement.

Personally, I wondered a few times why other religions wouldn’t have carried on, or if there would be more new ones than the one mentioned. The stories are mostly based in the United States, while the experience in Hindu India might have been very interesting as well.

Still, the stories are half adventurous novel, half terrifying future. It’s a very bleak future, how humankind will look without anything to believe in, but for the small size of the novel, it is very doable.

God Is Dead, Ron Currie, Picador 2007

We Need New Names

We are on our way to Budapest: Bastard and Chipo and Godknows and Sbho and Stina and me.

Ik lees graag over Afrika en van Afrikaanse auteurs (dit is namelijk niet per sé hetzelfde). Het is niet alleen vaak een stijl van schrijven die ik niet kan vinden bij schrijvers uit de Westerse samenleving, maar zij passen er ook voor om te voldoen aan de (westerse) ideeën over Afrika en de landen, stammen en individuën die daar leven. Helaas bood We Need New Names niet helemaal wat ik wilde.

Er is genoeg potentieel. Er wordt een wereld geschept die tussen revoluties en nieuw en oud zit, hoe armoede maar geaccepteerd wordt en de enige opties voor een betere wereld Het Amerika is. De auteur sprenkelt details over het verhaal van het hoofdpersoon en brengt het land tot leven.

De tegenhanger hiervan is helaas warrigheid. Er wordt met tijd gejongleerd, er mist een urgentie, alsof alles onder het oppervlak blijft borrelen zonder door te breken. Ja, dit is Coming to America met een spin over hoe immigranten zich nooit ergens thuis zullen voelen, maar wanneer valt de klap nu?

Zo blijft de lezer verward en enigzins comfortabel achter. We weten hoe het niet moet, maar opluchting noch oplossing lijken in de buurt.

We Need New Names, NoViolet Bulawayo, Chatto & Windus 2013

The Boy Next Door

Two days after I turned fourteen the son of our neighbor set his stepmother alight.

A love story between black and white against the back drop of the rise and fall of Zimbabwe. Four hundred pages and a few decades to show that wishes and dreams aren’t enough to uphold reality.

Zimbabwe was the African country that was going to be a great success. They had the resources, they had a sane government, and in comparison to neighbor South Africa, changes went pretty swimmingly. Until they didn’t.

That Zimbabwe went from great to a corrupted, dangerous mess isn’t news (or so I hope). In how many ways it went wrong might be. The Boy Next Door shows the very human story of being judged by your history, your skin color and your gender. And even when you do share those treats with your family, loved ones or neighbors, it doesn’t mean that your life will be easier for it. That – even when outsiders (in this case a lot of French people) – try to help, it doesn’t necessarily has to give good, or even any, results.

It’s easy to forget that the majority of people in such countries are the ordinary ones that just want to live their lives with an education, a job, a family of their own. This book shows it without shoving it into your face.

The Boy Next Door, Irene Sabatini, Sceptre 2010