Subscribe to Newsletter
Monthly Newsletter: Join more than 5,000 African literature enthusiasts!
Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our "Guide to African Novels."

2018 has been a rich harvest for African fiction. Just when we thought the year couldn’t yield any more gems, Sulaiman Addonia’s Silence is a Mother Tongue comes out and wows us with one of the most lovable female characters we’ve seen in African fiction this year.

Set in an East African refugee camp, the novel is centered on a young girl named Saba. The story follows her as she attempts to make sense of the refugee camp— a makeshift world of fragile sanctuary mixed with inconsolable loss.

Saba is the reason you should read this novel. She is powerful in the way her desire and vision controls the whole novel. When women control a story, magical things happen.

 

Addonia is a visual storyteller. He writes about Saba like she is an image in a painting or a film. She appears in the story as a dreamy collection of snapshots and fragments of anecdotes. Getting to know her is an intensely moving experience.

One moment, she is a silhouette, constantly fading in and out. She is described as “the negative to a picture, the real person behind the picture being somewhere.” These bits and pieces of the character convey only a partial vision of her dreams, her life, her body, and her power—just enough to keep you desperately wanting to hold on to the many versions of herself multiplying throughout the book.

Saba calls to mind other memorable women in African fiction—the mother in Ben Okri’s The Famished Road and Misra in Nurrudin Farrah’s Maps. In African fiction, these women represent an elusive idea of femininity and, in so doing, give us tons of reasons why femininity can’t possibly be reduced to a handful of stereotypes.

Silence is My Mother Tongue is Addonia’s second novel. It was published by Indigo Press.

Buy Silence is My Mother Tongue | Amazon

Tags: , , ,

I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Welcome to Brittle Paper, your go-to site for African writing and literary culture. We bring you all the latest news and juicy updates on publications, authors, events, prizes, and lifestyle. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram (@brittlepaper) and sign up for our "I love African Literature" newsletter.

Monthly Newsletter!

Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our
"Guide to African Novels."

Archives

The 2019 Brittle Paper Award for Poetry: Meet The 5 Finalists

BP Award for Poetry graph (2)

The 5 Shortlists for The 2019 Brittle Paper Awards were announced in November. Begun in 2017 to mark our seventh anniversary, the Awards […]

The 2019 Brittle Paper Anniversary Award: Meet The 6 Finalists

BP Anniversary Award graph

The 5 Shortlists for The 2019 Brittle Paper Awards were announced in November. Begun in 2017 to mark our seventh anniversary, the Awards […]

This Blood That Not Even the Mountains Can Hold: Megan Ross Rereads Sarah Godsell’s Liquid Bones

sarah godsell - liquid bones - graph

“this country of blood” It is just under a year since Impepho Press published Sarah Godsell’s second poetry collection, Liquid […]

On Transatlantic Shame | I. S. Jones | Poetry

gage-walker-CCFCMb1Defk-unsplash

nothing is earned unless something is lost. the ocean grants safe passage, but i fear the cost is too great. […]

The 2019 Brittle Paper Award for Creative Nonfiction: Meet The 4 Finalists

BP Award for Creative Nonfiction graph

The 5 Shortlists for The 2019 Brittle Paper Awards were announced in November. Begun in 2017 to mark our seventh anniversary, the Awards […]

Apply to Study for an MFA in Creative Writing at Texas State University

texas state university

The creative writing program at Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas is currently accepting applications for a Master’s in Fine […]

Thanks for signing up!

Never miss out on new posts. Subscribe to a digest, too:

No thanks, I only want the monthly newsletter.