Kenya, 2007. Odidi Oganda, running for his life, is gunned down in the streets of Nairobi. His sister, Ajany, and their father bring his body back home, to a crumbling colonial house in northern Kenya. But the peace they seek is hard to find: the murder has stirred deeply buried memories of colonial violence, of the killing-sprees of the Mau Mau uprising, and the shocking political assassination of Tom Mboya in 1969. When a young Englishman appears, searching for his missing father, another story, of love, or at least a connection, begins.
This is a spellbinding state of the nation novel about Kenya, showing how the violence of the past informs the violence and disorder of the present. Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor's memorable characters; Ajany's mother, deranged with grief and past violations, the Trader, embodying the timeless nomadic traders of Sudan, and Odidi himself, who transcended his past, came to success, and then a tragic end, are enchanting. Owuor reveals to us a new Kenya, a Kenya of bloodshed but also of modernity, suffused with a spirit world only half-remembered. This is a country where the characters listen so acutely for what is not said, and for the voices from the distant and recent past.
Publisher: Granta Books
Number of pages: 384
Weight: 269 g
Dimensions: 198 x 129 x 23 mm
In this dazzling novel you will find the entirety of human experience - tearshed, bloodshed, lust, love - in staggering proportions
Epic in scope, this is a big, big unforgettable book, full of love and full of pain. Dust is a most visceral, moving novel about a family caught up in the smelt of a Kenya roiling inside the lusts and violences of its adolescence, determined to move past it. You will meet a mother with an AK-47 you will never forget, a father shamed by a secret, betrayed by a nation. The varied landscapes of Kenya have never been more tenderly made alive. This is the novel my twenty-first century has been waiting for, for our world in these seismic times
This stunning debut novel grabs the reader's heart, refusing to let go... Owuor represents another shining talent among Africa's writers publishing in English
A rich exploration of Kenya's modern history... What's striking here, though, isn't so much the state-of-the-nation aspects, but its extraordinary prose. Owuor gives vivid descriptions of character and landscape, dispensing with verbs to achieve poetic compression, revelling in alliteration and half-rhyme. It's a virtuoso literary performance
Owuor's is a new voice from the African continent - distinct, rich, unflappable in her convictions
Epic, poetry-soaked... the most important novel to come out of Africa since Half of a Yellow Sun
Refreshing... Simultaneously earthy and other-worldly. Owuor is a welcome new voice
A complex story full of rich characters and magical prose
[A] richly evocative debut novel... Owuor's language is pungent, poetic, almost synaesthetic. A subtle, sensitive portrait of [Kenya]
Absorbing [and] executed to great effect... Dust is a fine, compassionate novel that relishes the complexity of human relations. It is written in a language that is often beautifully observant, and is alert in its insight and sympathy
A hugely ambitious first novel
Owuor's eye catches an abundance of rich detail and the suffering of the characters is leavened by the prose
This is a book in which multiple stories are told on almost every page. One of Owuor's greatest achievements is that she reveals repeatedly how multi-faceted human beings and the things they create are. This is nowhere more evident than in her presentation of Kenya, a place that is at once the site of great suffering and corruption, but also of extraordinary love, forbearance, beauty and humour. Insights leap from the page, frequently launched from only a handful of well-chosen words: [...] in the wake of the violence that splintered it, Kenya is a nation 'that is gluing its cracked shell together again'. The book is often very funny too. Owuor is a great conjurer of characters [and her] writing is at its most beautiful when it treats of the desert landscape, where the 'wind lumbers past like an ancient wizard' and the dusk comes 'plodding in and scarring the sky with yellow-orange trails'. The place is soaked in imagination. Indeed, as we follow the characters over the rocky terrain, it often seems as if we are wandering through a vast psyche rather than a physical region.