The Newlywed’s Window and Other Stories
Mukana Press (2022)
Reviewed by Lily Andrews for Reader Views (05/2022)
“The Newlywed’s Window and Other Stories” is a commanding debut collection of stories, as the writers impressively brew reality and craft to create a fresh, complex, and empathetic portrait of contemporary African society.
These incisive, sharply observed stories unfurl the stroke between desire and attainment, exploring the protagonists’ experiences as they face dilemmas and altering life decisions. Buoyed with poignancy and wit, they examine situations where cultural traditions, womanhood, and empowerment are not only probed and doubted, but also enforced.
The collection presents tactful yet stoic vividness of these characters and their environment in prose that is lissom and unfussy and are linked with aching surprises for readers. In ‘Black Pawpaw’, a young woman on the cusp of adulthood has her life is turned upside down when her employer’s sister tragically dies. In another, ‘The Newlyweds’ Window’, a woman longing to break free from being held back by her Swahili customs contemplates the transformation of a couple’s marriage in the comfort of her bedroom window.
The stories make readers feel like they are moving together with the main characters, in tandem, like two people set out on a journey. Further, the stories come alive as the writers display the vibrancy of African cities, their suburbs, village life, and heritage. Their infusion of local dialects results in a believable tapestry of breathtaking sweep and emotional power. The set also examines how tradition contends with modernity as most characters seek to break free and redefine their identity in a dynamic setting. As in most African narratives, the characters are revived through their clear-cut voices and dialogues.
Indeed, “The Newlywed’s Window and Other Stories” is a fine anthology that is well selected, well-ordered, and overall, a joy to read. Set in different African countries such as Nigeria, Kenya, and Zanzibar, they give an all-around picture of the rich continent. Ranging from broken promises, love, loss, relationships, marriage, and empowerment, the mood in the stories varies from satire to drama but all reveal a compassionate insight into the plight of women struggling to stay afloat and yearning for something to anchor themselves to a brighter future.
Overall, these twelve short stories are a collection of towering imagination and deserve 5 stars as they are marked by intricate beauty and emotiveness. They present a moving tableau that projects real-life situations. Readers are bound to be drawn into another world upon opening the first page. Truly, a must read!