The Newlyweds’ Window
The 2022 Mukana Press Anthology of African Writing
by Mukana Press
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Pub Date 05 Jul 2022 | Archive Date 30 Sep 2022
Who are Africa’s most promising emerging short story writers? Mukana Press sought to answer this question by scouting the continent for largely undiscovered talent. The result? This collection!
Africa’s stories have largely been relegated to themes of poverty, and war; yet there is so much more brilliance, texture, and layers to our stories. This collection seeks to provide a platform for the rest of the world to become acquainted with the excellence of talent outside of the mainstream, as well as tell our stories from fresh vantage points.
A young woman creates an alternate identity on social media in Nigeria, a little girl discovers hidden photographs of the father she never met, a serial killer stalks his victims, a woman watches the evolution of a newlywed couple’s relationship through their window in Zanzibar. The stories in this collection are eclectic, breathtaking, and illuminate readers to an Africa that has largely been left untold.
Starred Review- Blue Ink. This exciting short story collection showcasing strong and emerging African writers displays a refreshing richness and depth of experience...In all, this is an impressive display of talent, and proof that the short story genre is alive and well in fresh and interesting ways.
Some of the best short stories I have ever read. Not one of these tales failed to capture my rapt attention over what would happen next. If you enjoy short stories, or stories full of drama, suspense, mystery, and excitement, this book is for you -Seattle Book Review
Starred Review- Reader Views. Truly, a must read!...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.
I found myself engaged in each and every one of them…These stories come from some brilliant minds. -Manhattan Book Review
Some of the most masterful storytelling I’ve read in a long time…Each new author offers up a different lens through which the reader views a distinct slice of life that showcases wildly different perspectives on life on the African continent, creating a range of tones and themes that together create a vibrant kaleidoscopic image that dazzles the senses and stimulates the mind.- Portland Book Review
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Average rating from 3 members
This was such a fascinating anthology that covered not only a wide range of countries and genres, but also engaging themes to be dissected and examined. I individually rated each story - with a short review - as follows:
1. Border Control
Review: This was (I believe) a contemporary short story, but it was very confusing and I’m not quite sure if this was technically a social horror story or not. I was never entirely sure what was happening, or what was imagined by this woman in a very stressful situation. I feel like I misunderstood this story’s symbolism – especially considering that the name felt like it had no relevance to the story. I was especially confused by the continuous mention of “padlocks” this felt like an odd word choice to describe what the character was experiencing, and I could not understand why this specific term was so frequently repeated.
2. Gasping for Air
Review: This was such a creepy story and for being so short there was an incredible build-up of tension. I really enjoyed this author’s writing style and the big twist in this story left me in absolute shock!
3. The Newlywed’s Window
Review: Another contemporary short story, but this one was so well-developed. It is a story of someone on the outside looking in and just simply observing the world around them, which really resonated with me. I loved the writing style and felt like the examinations of societal roles and expectations were incredibly interesting in the context of the events we witness with this main character’s added commentary and reflection.
4. Mareba’s Tavern
Review: I really enjoyed this story, perhaps especially because of this communal atmosphere that is so integral to the story itself. The writing style was great at expressing the unspoken feelings of the main character and for creating these anxious moments that had some comedic relief. I do wish this story had been a bit longer though because I think I needed more time with our main character - and more scenes with the daughter - to fully connect with the characters.
5. How Are You?
Review: I enjoyed this one not only because it was incredibly well-written, but also because I definitely related to our main character. It can be incredibly stressful to carry the weight of your family and their burdens on your shoulders, while simultaneously having to figure out the course of your own life in the process. I like that this was a story examining the spoken and unspoken understandings between family members and how parent-child dynamics are renegotiated as our parents age.
6. Black Pawpaw
Review: This story genuinely made my skin crawl and then left me with my mouth wide open at the crazy turn of events! This story relied more on shock value rather than a build-up of tension, but it worked so well with this writing style that you never quite knew what the next move would be.
7. The Rain
Review: I liked that this story used such a different format, but I’m not entirely sure if it was right for this story. I was engaged in the story, but it left feeling like I wanted more from it or that I was missing information since we’re only getting one perspective. It was a very interesting story, but one where I think the format hindered the reading experience rather than enhanced it. Also, there were some errors with the formatting and minor grammar errors that were noticeable.
8. Our Girl Bimpe
Review: I loved the social commentary explored in this story. This was also a character that I found very relatable and was able to fully empathize with that feeling of just trying to find your place. There was also quite a bit of context in this story which was great to get a better understanding of certain aspects of social media use in this specific country.
9. The Daya Zimu
Review: This was an interesting concept for a story, and I was initially intrigued. However, there was just too much suspension of belief for the set-up to really work. Also, this story didn’t really build tension for me, I wanted it to just get to the point. Then, when we got there it was wrapped up so quickly that it all felt very underwhelming. I think this story could have benefited from being just a bit longer.
10. Old Photographs
This was an interesting story but left me with a lot of unanswered questions. It felt like it was almost unnecessarily long when focusing on insignificant descriptions. Then, it was so easily wrapped up when there were so many more interesting aspects left unexplored.
11. This is for my Auntie Penzi Who
Review: This is the story I’m most conflicted on because initially I was really into this story, and I still enjoyed the writing style of it. However, as it went on, I felt like the story was getting bogged down by adding so much in without a real guiding thread to the story. It felt very ambiguous and left me questioning, is this actually Auntie Penzi or not? Something about this story felt very unfinished, especially the ending. There were also multiple grammar errors, and the name of a character is spelled entirely differently from one sentence to the next (M’ake/B’ake) so it just felt more like a rough draft than a finished story.
12. A Letter from Ireland
Review: A great story on traditionalist views vs colonist views and the negotiations of both worlds. I liked that this centered faith and traditions in such a unique way where we see generational gaps as well. Something about the writing style in this story just felt very cozy to me and I really liked our characters.
Overall, I rated this anthology 4/5 stars because I enjoyed a substantial number of the stories included. This selection of stories provides different options for a wide variety of readers to find stories and characters to connect with – as well as themes and discussions to examine that I think will start many discussions about the current societal issues across different countries and cultures. I really enjoyed my reading experience with this anthology and look forward to following along with some of these debut writers careers as they hopefully continue to grow!
The newlywed window – is a collection of twelve short stories all focused on different issues and set in different contexts that is Zanzibar, Malawi, and Nigeria. Black Paw paw is one of the stories that stands out – with vivid character descriptions and an interesting twist at the end. Two other standouts are Daya Zimu and Old photograph which are well written horror / thriller pieces. I found Rain – innovative, written in the form of emails – but it was a bit confusing – the story needed some setup or background regarding the main character to know who she is and her life in the village. Otherwise the stories were well written, and the collection can be used for African literature classes.
Readers who liked this book also liked:
Janette Oke; Laurel Oke Logan
Cynthia Hickey; Linda Baten Johnson; Teresa Ives Lilly; Janice Thompson
Patrick R. Leddin
Luisana Duarte Armendariz