Book Review – The Daily Assortment Of Astonishing Things

And other stories – The Caine Prize for African Writings 2016 (Jacana) ISBN: 9781431424351

This collection of short stories by African writers is a mixed bag.

Lidudumalingani from South Africa won the 2016 Caine Prize for his story Memories We Lost. I must confess I didn’t agree with the judges’ choice. To me the story was disjointed and lacked a point, but maybe that was the point. It deals with mental illness in a rural village in South Africa. A concept that is both foreign and demonic to the villagers. I found the simplistic use of language distracting.

At Your Requiem by Bongani Konza, by contrast was a moving, captivating story. Set in the future, it revolves around a mathematical formula that gives predestined people the ability to eat others’ pain. But is it as simple as that? Genesis by Tope Florian was a haunting look at how the damage inflicted in childhood determines your destiny. My heart ached for the narrator.

The entertaining stories certainly outweighed the stories I didn’t enjoy. And that’s the wonderful thing about a collection of short stories; you only need read the ones that appeal.

Liesl Williams

Posted on: 26th September 2016