(85) How Beautiful We Were, Imbolo Mbue [bk 5 of 10 for May]

Chose this because the cover art and title just grabbed me. I came across it browsing in the library site. This is definitely in the eco trauma/capitalist critique arena– an American company is granted rights to the oil beneath an African village, Kosawa, and the environmental repercussions are truly horrific. Mbue follows the resistance over thirty years or so, tracing the lies, prevarications, legal dodges; the deaths and the direct action.

The narration structure here was really interesting. It shifts, going first person through several generations of one family, but then, interspersed, are The Children– several age-mates of Thula (the daughter of the primary family, who is educated in America and returns to lead a revolutionary movement in Kosawa.) The Children speak in a collective: we laughed, our parents, we said…. the idea of merging individual identity into a group for a purpose– or perhaps not for a purpose, perhaps just as a cultural difference in a society not so focused on individualism.

I could see putting this on a recommended extra reading for an eco-crit course. Reminded me (this is a bit embarassing) of Kingsolver’s Poisonwood Bible– I definitely need to read more books about Africa!–but the time period (70’s), the political action, and the multiple narrators were similar.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: