We wrap up book news for our readers in our regular Book Digest feature. Today our focus is books from Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah, Dorothy Koomson, Shugri Said Salh, Maryse Condé.

The Sex Lives of African Women, Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah

Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group, Dialogue Books
Publication Date: July 22, 2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Language: English
Where to find it: Penguin Random House.

Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah

Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah
Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah

Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah is a Ghanaian feminist writer and blogger. She co-founded award-winning blog Adventures from the Bedrooms of African Women and has written for The Guardian and Open Democracy. Sekyiamah is the Director for Communications manager at the Association for Women’s Rights in Development and a member of the Black Feminism Forum Working Group which organised the historic first Black Feminist Forum in Bahia, Brazil.

The Sex Lives of African Women

A conversation starter like Three Women but centering the experiences of women of color: a mellifluous chorus celebrating the liberation, individuality, and joy of African women’s multifaceted sexuality.

It is imperative to break out of the boxes circumscribed by society in order to discover one’s self, and the multitudes we hold within us.”

From her blog, “Adventures from the Bedrooms of African Women,” Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah has spent decades talking openly and intimately to African women around the world about sex. Here, she features the stories that most affected her, chronicling her own journey toward sexual freedom.

We meet Yami, a pansexual Canadian of Malawian heritage, who describes negotiating the line between family dynamics and sexuality. There’s Esther, a cis-gendered hetero woman studying in America, by way of Cameroun and Kenya, who talks of how a childhood rape has made her rebellious and estranged from her missionary parents. And Tsitsi, an HIV-positive Zimbabwean woman who is raising a healthy, HIV-free baby.

Across a queer community in Egypt, polyamorous life in Senegal, and a reflection on the intersection of religion and pleasure in Cameroun, Sekyiamah explores the many layers of love and desire, its expression, and how it forms who we are.

In these confessional pages, women control their own bodies and pleasure, and assert their sexual power. Capturing the rich tapestry of sex positivity, The Sex Lives of African Women is a singular and subversive book that celebrates the liberation, individuality, and joy of African women’s multifaceted sexuality.

I know What You’ve Done, Dorothy Koomson

Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group, Dialogue Books
Publication Date: July 8, 2021
Genre: Literary fiction
Language: English
Where to find it: Dorothy Koomson online.

Dorothy Koomson

Dorothy Koomson
Dorothy Koomson

Dorothy Koomson is the award-winning author of fifteen novels including the Sunday Times bestsellers My Best Friend’s Girl, The Ice Cream Girls and Goodnight, Beautiful. Dorothy’s novels have been translated into over 30 languages, and a TV adaptation based on The Ice Cream Girls was shown on ITV1 in 2013. After briefly living in Australia, Dorothy now lives in Brighton, UK.

I know What You’ve Done

Do you have any idea what the people you know are capable of? Bestselling author of All My Lies Are True, Dorothy Koomson, asks how well you can really know your neighbours. Fans of Lisa Jewell and Louise Candlish will rip through the pages of this addictive new thriller.

What if all your neighbours’ secrets landed in a diary on your doorstep?

What if the woman who gave it to you was murdered by one of the people in the diary?

What if the police asked if you knew anything?

Would you hand over the book of secrets?

Or … would you try to find out what everyone had done?

I Know What You’ve Done is the unputdownable thriller from the Queen of the Big Reveal.

The Last Nomad: Coming of Age in the Somali Desert, Shugri Said Salh

Publisher: Algonquin Books
Publication Date: August 3, 2021
Genre: Memoir
Language: English
Where to find it: Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Shugri Said Salh

Shugri Said Salh
Shugri Said Salh

Shugri Said Salh was born in the desert of Somalia in 1974 and spent her early years living as a nomad. In 1992, she emigrated to North America after the civil war broke out in her home country. She attended nursing school at Pacific Union College and graduated with honors. And although this is her first book, Shugri has been storytelling since she could talk. From her grandmother and the nomadic community in which she was raised, she heard stories and learned of their power to entertain, teach, and transform. When she isn’t writing or telling stories, she works as an infusion nurse. She lives in Sonoma County with her husband and three children.

The Last Nomad: Coming of Age in the Somali Desert

The Last Nomad Shugri Said Salh

A remarkable and inspiring true story that “stuns with raw beauty” about one woman’s resilience, her courageous journey to America, and her family’s lost way of life.

Born in Somalia, a spare daughter in a large family, Shugri Said Salh was sent at age six to live with her nomadic grandmother in the desert. The last of her family to learn this once-common way of life, Salh found herself chasing warthogs, climbing termite hills, herding goats, and moving constantly in search of water and grazing lands with her nomadic family. For Salh, though the desert was a harsh place threatened by drought, predators, and enemy clans, it also held beauty, innovation, centuries of tradition, and a way for a young Sufi girl to learn courage and independence from a fearless group of relatives. Salh grew to love the freedom of roaming with her animals and the powerful feeling of community found in nomadic rituals and the oral storytelling of her ancestors.

As she came of age, though, both she and her beloved Somalia were forced to confront change, violence, and instability. Salh writes with engaging frankness and a fierce feminism of trying to break free of the patriarchal beliefs of her culture, of her forced female genital mutilation, of the loss of her mother, and of her growing need for independence. Taken from the desert by her strict father and then displaced along with millions of others by the Somali Civil War, Salh fled first to a refugee camp on the Kenyan border and ultimately to North America to learn yet another way of life.

Readers will fall in love with Salh on the page as she tells her inspiring story about leaving Africa, learning English, finding love, and embracing a new horizon for herself and her family. Honest and tender, The Last Nomad is a riveting coming-of-age story of resilience, survival, and the shifting definitions of home.

The Wondrous and Tragic Life of Ivan and Ivana, Maryse Condé

Publisher: World Editions
Publication Date: August 5, 2021
Genre: Literary fiction
Language: English (translator: Richard Philcox)
Where to find it: World Editions, Amazon

Maryse Condé

Maryse Condé
Maryse Condé

Maryse Condé was born in Guadeloupe earned her MA and PhD in Comparative Literature at Paris-Sorbonne University and went on to have a distinguished academic career, receiving the title of Professor Emerita of French at Columbia University in New York, where she taught and lived for many years. She has also lived in various West African countries, most notably in Mali, where she gained inspiration for her worldwide bestseller Segu, for which she was awarded the African Literature Prize and several other respected French awards. Condé was awarded the 2018 New Academy Prize (or “Alternative Nobel”) in Literature for her oeuvre. The Wondrous and Tragic Life of Ivan and Ivana is her latest novel.

The Wondrous and Tragic Life of Ivan and Ivana

Babakar is a doctor living alone, with only the memories of his childhood in Mali. In his dreams, he receives visits from his blue-eyed mother and his ex-lover Azelia, both now gone, as are the hopes and aspirations he’s carried with him since his arrival in Guadeloupe.

Until, one day, the child Anaïs comes into his life, forcing him to abandon his solitude. Anaïs’s Haitian mother died in childbirth, leaving her daughter destitute—now Babakar is all she has, and he wants to offer this little girl a future. Together they fly to Haiti, a beautiful, mysterious island plagued by violence, government corruption, and rebellion.

Once there, Babakar and his two friends, the Haitian Movar and the Palestinian Fouad, three different identities looking for a more compassionate world, begin a desperate search for Anaïs’s family.