It's a perfect book for this sort of thing - a perfect mix of the exotic and the familiar, not too challenging, giving you just enough of insight into the culture without making you uncomfortable. Only in the last story things seem to start taking shape, and I had a feeling it had less to do with Ayodele and more with Dayo Forster finally taking a better grip on her own writing.
I agree with the other reviews that this is a fine option if you are doing a world books challenge and need a book from the Gambia this is why I read it, and its certainly readable but there isnt much to recommend it beyond that. Tracking the similarities and differences among the stories and the different ways characters relate to each other based on different lives and choices was interesting, and the author does a good job of showing different sides of those events that occur in multiple stories, avoiding repetitive content.
The book then tells her story in a Sliding Doors manner; what happens depended on which partner she went with.
First-time Gambian novelist Dayo Forster has written a lively, fast paced and delightful novel built around an intriguing concept: three different scenarios unfold for her life, depending on the man she chooses for that fateful night... Ayodele, or Dele for short, lives in Banjul, the capital of Gambia, that small costal nation hugging the river Gambia and sandwiched in between Senegal. Dele is an intelligent girl and has already decided to move on to university either in Dakar, Senegal or, if she can get a grant, to England or elsewhere. Forster develops each of the three life options with great enthusiasm, imagining three different futures, each leading her to late middle age: She could marry the chosen one, settle down and struggle not to repeat her mother's life; she could pursue her studies abroad, see the world and become successful; she could deeply fall in love...
Yes, that matters to me as much as the stories she has weaved together in Reading the Ceiling. Growing up and understanding the power of representation and writing our own stories has pushed me into a year of reading works from (female) African authors only for a year. Forster's craft is greatly appreciated, as she gives us THREE stories, each weaving a possibility of what Dele's life could be.
She thinks about her choices Reuben, a guy who likes her but whom she doesnt particularly fancy; Yuan, a classmate that she likes, and who likes her, but their relationship hasnt yet taken on a romantic aspect; Frederick, the father of one of her friends, who seems like hed be willing; and Osman, her mothers servant, as a last resort. The next third of the book tells the story of her life after that incident. She starts over again, telling the story from the perspective of Ayodeles life if she had lost her virginity to one of the other men. Near the end of Reading the Ceiling, Ayodele thinks back to a story that her mothers friend, Aunt K, used to tell her and her sisters.
Læs det som en novelle med en åben slutning fuld af muligheder.
The story produced as a result of the workshop was published in a Caine Prize anthology in July 2006.