Posts tagged commonwealth literature

“Commonwealth Short Stories”, part 4

In the final part of this series of posts, I’m reviewing stories by Mavis Gallant, V.S. Naipaul, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Hal Porter and Chinua Achebe. Mavis Gallant (Canada) – Orphans’ Progress According to the introduction, Gallant’s work mostly deals with broken families, and this is no exception: two girls are taken into care because their mother is irresponsible. They go to live with relatives, and then at a school run by nuns, until finally they have forgotten where they came from. At the time it seemed normal – it was… Read More

“Commonwealth Short Stories”, part 3

Continuing the series, here are my notes on the short stories by Randolph Stow, Janet Frame, Andrew Salkey and Ezekiel Mphahlele. Randolph Stow (Australia) – Magic This is based on the ‘sulumwoya’ myth of the Trobriand Islands, where incest between a brother and a sister is the supreme sexual taboo. The introduction says he took the myth and added psychological realism and more description of the setting. But I couldn’t see much evidence of either – it felt like a traditional myth. The lust was heavily foreshadowed from the first… Read More

“Commonwealth Short Stories”, part 2

This is a continuation from yesterday’s post, which was becoming too long! Today, I’m reviewing stories by Mordecai Richler, Lee Kok Liang, Wilson Harris, Frank Sargeson and Amos Tutuola. Mordecai Richler (Canada) – The Summer my Grandmother was Supposed to Die The story is a narrated by a child, and starts with his grandmother being diagnosed with gangrene and a doctor saying “She won’t last a month.” Gradually she lasts longer and longer, and there are some good observations about how the family is prepared to help for weeks or… Read More

“Commonwealth Short Stories”, part 1

There are some excellent stories in here, from big names like V.S. Naipaul, Patrick White,  George Lamming, Chinua Achebe and Ngugi Wa Thiong’o (although this book is so old he is credited as James Ngugi, his birth name which he rejected as a sign of colonial influence). Also some good ones from writers I didn’t know, like R.K. Narayan from India and Amos Tutuola from Nigeria. The editors, Anna Rutherford and Donald Hannah, have also provided for each of the 18 stories a couple of pages of introduction giving background… Read More