We wrap up book news for our readers in our regular Book Digest segment with books from Aaiún Nin, Dami Ajayi, Ruby Yayra Goka, and Clifford Oluoch.
A Perfect Score by Clifford Chianga Oluoch
Publisher: Odijo Foundation
Publication Date: 2021
Genre: Nonfiction, memoir
Where to find it: Nuria Books
Clifford Chianga Oluoch
Clifford Chianga Oluoch is a Nairobi-based teacher, writer, and philanthropist who founded the Homeless of Nairobi organisation.
A Perfect Score
Teaching is much more than giving lessons and pushing students to attain good grades. It is about human interaction.
It is these human relationships that Clifford Chianga Oluoch explores in this memoir that spans his life as teacher, a father, and a philanthropist rehabilitating street children and feeding the homeless.
Odijo as he is fondly called takes you inside classrooms, hospital wards, police stations, and courtrooms in this intriguing account of small yet extraordinary acts of selflessness.
Odijo’s spare prose packs emotional heft. The interconnected stories are sobering and uplifting, and leave the reader wanting each account to last a little longer.
Broken Halves of a Milky Sun by Aaiún Nin
Publisher: Astra House/Penguin Random House
Publication Date: February 1, 2022
Where to find it: Penguin Random House
Aaiún Nin is a writer, mixed media artist, and painter born in Luanda, Angola. Aaiún’s poetry has been published in multiple Scandinavian magazines and journals, including Information, Untold Pages, Kritiker, Friktion, Forfatternes Klimaaksjon, and hvermandag.dk. They have performed and read at literary festivals like Oslo Internasjonale Poesifestival in Norway and at the Louisiana Literature Festival in Denmark. The leading Danish newspaper, Politiken, recently called Aaiún a “great, rare talent in Danish literature.” Aaiún studied in Zimbabwe and South Africa. They currently reside in Poland.
Broken Halves of a Milky Sun by Aaiún Nin
With the emotional undertow of Ocean Vuong and the astute political observations of Natalie Diaz, a powerful poetry debut exploring the effects of racism, war and colonialism, queer love and desire.
In their breathtaking international debut, Aaiún Nin plumbs the depths of the lived and enduring effects of colonialism in their native country, Angola. In these pages, Nin untangles complexities of exile, the reckoning of familial love, but also reveals the power of queer love and desire through the body that yearns to love and be loved. Nin shows the ways in which faith and devotion serve as forms of oppression and interrogates the nature of home by reclaiming the persistent echoes of trauma. A captivating blend of evocative prose and intimate testimony, Nin speaks to the universal vulnerability of existence.
Even When Your Voice Shakes by Ruby Yayra Goka
Publisher: Norton Young Readers
Publication Date: February 15, 2022
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Where to find it: Norton Young Readers
Ruby Yayra Goka
Ruby Yayra Goka is a dentist and a writer from Ghana. Six of her young adult books have received CODE Burt Literary Awards for Young Adult Literature. She lives in Accra.
Even When Your Voice Shakes
A young woman speaks out against her wealthy abuser in this riveting YA novel from one of Ghana’s most celebrated children’s book authors.
When Amerley is offered a job working for one of her mother’s old school friends, she knows she has to accept. Her wages will feed her family, help her sisters stay in school, and ensure that her mother won’t have to worry about them. Amerley’s move to Accra isn’t easy, but she soon settles into her new life away from her small village―until she is raped by the son of her employer. Torn between keeping quiet to keep her job and speaking up for herself and for justice, Amerley must decide how to live her truth, and the impact of her choice will be felt through her entire community.
Through the life of an ordinary girl from a small country village, Even When Your Voice Shakes exposes the damage wrought by institutionalized misogyny and poverty and reveals how even those who are most disadvantaged are never without their own power.
Affection and other Accidents by Dami Ajayi
Dami Ajayi is a Nigerian writer and psychiatrist. He is the author of the poetry chapbook Daybreak & Other Poems (2013). His first volume of poems, Clinical Blues (Write House, 2014), was a finalist of the ANA Poetry Prize. It was also longlisted for the Melita Hume Prize and the Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature. A Woman’s Body is a Country (Ouida Books, 2017), his second volume, was selected by Quartz Africa in 2017 as one of the best books of the year, and it was a finalist of the Glenna Luschei Prize. His poems have been translated into Yoruba, Portuguese and Italian.
Affection and other Accidents
Dami Ajayi’s third volume of poetry comprises poems of different forms and lengths. The end of a romantic relationship is at the heart of this collection and these poems explore the poet’s inner thoughts as much as they bear witness to the five cities and three continents where the relationship unravels. Inadvertently, politics, both local and global including George Floyd’s murder and the Covid-19 pandemic, seep into these lyrical poems styled like 90s R&B LP records and punctuated with poetic interlogues.