Khadija Abdalla Bajaber’s debut novel The House of Rust launched to a full house at the Alliance Française, Mombasa on Thursday, November 25, 2021. The evening was emceed by Hawa Noor.
Khadija Abdalla Bajaber is one of the brightest young writers to come out of Kenya in the last few years. The Mombasa born and bred writer has made her name with work appearing in publications like A Long House, Lolwe, and Down River Road in the recent past. Her greatest claim to fame was when she won the Graywolf Press African Fiction Prize in 2018. This prize making its debut in that year was a manuscript prize for an author primarily residing in Africa who would be published by Graywolf Press in English, by 66thand2nd in Italian and receive a $12,000 advance.
The manuscript that won her the prize judged by A Igoni Barrett called The House of Rust went on to be published by Graywolf Press on October 9 as promised. The book was described thus;
Khadija Abdalla Bajaber’s debut is a magical realist coming-of-age tale told through the lens of the Swahili and diasporic Hadhrami culture in Mombasa, Kenya. Richly descriptive and written with an imaginative hand and sharp eye for unusual detail, The House of Rust is a memorable novel by a thrilling new voice.
The local rights for the book were secured by Jahazi Press and they made a point to make the first launch for the book in the world to happen in the newly minted novelist’s hometown of Mombasa. It event happened at the local Alliance Française with the moderation duties being taken up by journalist, creative writer, researcher, editor, and artist Hawa Noor.
There was a full house at the Alliance Française with family, friends and bibliophiles making their way to listen to their own novelist making her official debut to the world. This included prominent business man and politician Suleiman Shahbal. Those who attended the event got to have the first signed copies of the book.
Here are images from the event below;