Tamarind Woman – Anita Rau Badami
Kamini has recently moved from India to Canada. Plunged into the past by acrimonious telephone calls and odd postcards from her mother, she tries to make sense of the eccentric family she has left behind. Why was her Mother as bitter as a tamarind with her lot in life? Why did she seem to love Roopa best, rubbing almond oil on her skin at bath-time and never scolding her for getting her sums wrong? And where did she disappear to while Dadda was away on business, leaving her daughters in the care of a superstitious old ayah? A wise and affectionate portrait of two generations of women in an Indian family, Tamarind Woman is a beautifully evocative novel that explores the mutability of memory and unravels the deep ties of love and resentment that bind mothers and daughters everywhere.
Lyrics Alley – Leila Aboulela
Lyrics Alley is the evocative story of an affluent Sudanese family shaken by the shifting powers in their country and the near-tragedy that threatens the legacy they’ve built for decades.
Their fortune threatened by shifting powers in Sudan and their heir’s debilitating accident, a powerful family under the leadership of Mahmoud Bey is torn between the traditional and modern values of Mahmoud’s two wives and his son’s efforts to break with cultural limits.
The Hairdresser of Harare: A Novel – Tendai Huchu
Vimbai is the best hairdresser in Mrs. Khumalo’s salon, and she is secure in her status until the handsome, smooth-talking Dumisani shows up one day for work. Despite her resistance, the two become friends, and eventually, Vimbai becomes Dumisani’s landlady. He is as charming as he is deft with the scissors, and Vimbai finds that he means more and more to her. Yet, by novel’s end, the pair’s deepening friendship—used or embraced by Dumisani and Vimbai with different futures in mind—collapses in unexpected brutality.
The novel is an acute portrayal of a rapidly changing Zimbabwe. In addition to Vimbai and Dumisani’s personal development, the book shows us how social concerns shape the lives of everyday people.
The In-Between World of Vikram Lall – M.G. Vassanji
Vikram Lall comes of age in 1950s Kenya, at the same time that the colony is struggling towards independence. Against the unsettling backdrop of Mau Mau violence, Vic and his sister Deepa, the grandchildren of an Indian railroad worker, search for their place in a world sharply divided between Kenyans and the British. We follow Vic from a changing Africa in the fifties, to the hope of the sixties, and through the corruption and fear of the seventies and eighties. Hauntingly told in the voice of the now exiled Vic, The In-Between World of Vikram Lall is an acute and bittersweet novel of identity and family, of lost love and abiding friendship, and of the insidious legacy of the British Empire.
Six Metres of Pavement – Farzana Doctor
Ismail Boxwala made the worst mistake of his life one summer morning twenty years ago: he forgot his baby daughter in the back seat of his car. After his daughter’s tragic death, he struggles to continue living. A divorce, years of heavy drinking, and sex with strangers only leave him more alone and isolated.
But Ismail’s story begins to change after he reluctantly befriends two women: Fatima, a young queer activist kicked out of her parents’ home; and Celia, his grieving Portuguese-Canadian neighbour who lives just six metres away. A slow-simmering romance develops between Ismail and Celia. Meanwhile, dangers lead Fatima to his doorstep. Each makes complicated demands of him, ones he is uncertain he can meet.