Things They Lost

Author:

Okwiri Oduor

Title:

Things They Lost

Publisher:

One World

Nataka Books Reviews: 

Things They Lost

Okwiri Oduor has produced a poetic, lyrical and magical narrative of the thirteen year old Ayosa. We meet Ayosa at home being looked after by her grandmother whilst her mother is away. A few pages in, it becomes apparent to the reader that this book is as much about the journey of Ayosa and her family as it is about the lived experience of how she will get there.


Will little Ayosa and her mother Nakumbo Promise find each other again and reconcile? By finding the other, will they find themselves? #MyTop100AfricanBooks


-- Review by Nataka Books

Nataka Books Full Review: 

Things They Lost

Okwiri Oduor has produced a poetic, lyrical and magical narrative of the thirteen year old Ayosa. We meet Ayosa at home being looked after by her grandmother whilst her mother is away. A few pages in, it becomes apparent to the reader that this book is as much about the journey of Ayosa and her family as it is about the lived experience of how she will get there.


Okwiri paints evocative scenes, find the right movement, textures, scenery and thoughts to match the unfolding events without settling into a pattern. We discerned no single genre such as narrative fiction. Prose and poetry are intertwined between conversations and the developing events and memories. This is a fascinating book brimming with confidence and inviting the reader to explore its unique style. 


Past events are frequently mirrored through the present. The barely functional mother and daughter relationship between Ayosa and Nabumbo Promise replays itself. The trauma is laid bare, revisited, and in her own way Ayosa attempts to understand its beginnings through the generations in her family. Things That Happened in the Past. Things We lost. 


Various literary devices are employed by Okwiri Oduor in this original debut. Character names, historical settings, social customs including religion or music, none is beyond Okwiri's armoury. They all have a purpose in the book. Pay attention. Observe. Absorb. We simply have not read anything with the voice of Okwiri Odour and we loved it.


Poetry is at the heart of her quest to bridge the trauma, delivered mostly but not exclusively through the pen and prayers of Ms Temperance and Father Thadeus. At times magical, whilst being firmly placed in present in other scenes, the reader is challenged to move between the real unfolding events and those remembered in traditions, folklore or history. Nabumbo Promise. Lola Freedom. Maxwell Truth.


"So they drowned their brother, Maxwell Truth....I knew there were missing pieces to it. Somethign buried or something forgotten. And knowing that mother of theirs, that Lola Freedom, ...it was quite likely that she was the one that hurt Maxwell Truth."


What could the meaning of the trauma visited on Ayosa, her family and her town be interepreted as? Is there an overarching parallel which visited a people, brought misery, corrupted the minds and took forever to dislodge from their souls? Were minds and hearts captured in this process and require the promise to be freed by the truth? This book certainly leaves room for interpretation and asks some tough questions through the characters of Ayosa, Nabumbo, Sindano and others.


This makes 'Things They Lost' a perfect book for a bookclub. Without doubt, there will be multiple and interesting interpretations of this wonderful and brilliant writing ! For those looking for a simple plot, what happened and how - look elsewhere. 


This book is as much about the history, language, lyricysm, expressiveness, poetry, movement and evoking emotions and a state of being long buried that might it be believed to have been lost. Things They Lost. Will little Ayosa and her mother Nakumbo Promise find each other again and reconcile? By finding the other, will they find themselves?

#MyTop100AfricanBooks


-- Review by Nataka Books