Monday, October 10, 2011

No Sweetness Here by Ama Ata Aidoo

First published over 40 years ago, this collection of thoughtful and entertaining short stories from Ghanaian author Ama Ata Aidoo does not feel dated at all. Her African women and men are doing ordinary things, like moving to the city to find work, or praying over a sick child. They cook, laugh, and fall in and out of love. They are vividly alive.

Aidoo captures voice especially well. Two of the stories are told entirely in dialogue. I love the expressions her storytellers use to object to interruptions: "I'm cooking the whole meal for you, why do you want to lick the ladle now?" (In the Cutting of a Drink) and "I am taking you to birdtown so I can't understand why you insist on searching for eggs from the suburb!" (Something to Talk About on the Way to the Funeral).

The path that led to me choosing this book is rather convoluted. I'll thank a commenter on the Amy Reads blog for linking to an NPR interview with Chimamanda Adichie in which she recommends No Sweetness Here. Adichie's warm praise, together with my having enjoyed Aidoo's novel Sister Killjoy some years ago, spurred me to track down the short story collection via interlibrary loan. I'm very glad to have done so.

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