I Still Miss Him by Walije Gondwe

a nutshell: recalling her childhood in 1950s Malawi, the narrator – Kamu – tells the story of her fraught teen romance with a European boy named Charlie

a line: “Unfortunately, love, amour, kutemwa, kupenda – call it what you will – is not that rational”

an image: it has been some time since I read such a quintessentially teenage moment as when Kamu finds herself pondering whether ‘that boy’ had a PhD in being handsome

a thought: this short novel is not all just fleeting lust and angst-ridden teen dramas, it also delves into the racialised society in which Kamu grows up – the young girl’s ongoing struggle with the taboo of associating with white Europeans is made very clear from the earliest pages

a fact: born in 1936, Gondwe was the first Malawian woman novelist to have her work published – in 1999 she founded a charity, Vinjeru Education, to provide educational resources to schools in Malawi’s remote regions

want to read I Still Miss Him? visit here

Collected Stories by Patricia Grace

a nutshell: gathering stories by one of New Zealand’s most prominent Māori authors, Grace’s writing offers a fascinating insight into life in this corner of the world

a line: “It’s fashionable for a Pakeha to have a Māori for a friend”

an image: Grace’s loving descriptions of the landscape were a highlight for me, particularly as I was reading it while travelling around NZ’s South Island – observations of the sun putting its finger on everything, the sky rightly bestowing tears on earth, lupins, ledges, and a joyous big stink of pigs

a thought: one story that will stay with me for some time was ‘Journey’, which closes with an old man sitting on the edge of his bed looking at his palms, utterly dejected & heartbroken after an exhausting effort to try to defend his land from development – insisting that “if it’s your stamping ground and you have your ties there, then there’s no land equal, surely that wasn’t hard to understand”

a fact: Waiariki (1975), which is included in this book, was the first short story collection by a Māori woman writer

want to read Collected Stories? visit here