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  • Writer's pictureAlessandra Fanizzi


English text only / Article written for Rebel Femme Online Magazine

Books Review, New Daughters of Africa

Insatiable readers, our favourite date with books is here…and of course, Rebel Femme team has you covered!

From America to Africa, passing through Russia and Japan, here are the top new book titles released by the end of April and the current month of May 2019, to enjoy under the sunshine or in your favourite quiet spot, where nobody can disturb your wonderful peace.

Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

California, USA, 2025 circa. The world Fifteen-year-old Lauren Olamina lives in is filled with economic collapse, climate change disaster, political destruction, scary violence, sense of racism and chaos within the society pattern, and where all has fallen apart. Her life proceeds behinds the protection of a Baptist community with her preacher father, family and neighbours unwilling to see things as they really are, and as a response to this terrible apocalypse-to-be, she is determined to survive in the most fulfilling way, in order to live a better life.

The young (only at age), highly intelligent character is a hyper-empath, as she over feels others’ spectrum of emotions and wants to save herself the people she loves from the near destruction, ignored by everyone surrounding her. This leads the Afro-American girl to start a new religion which gives her comfort, called Earthseed, founded on the concept of a simple spiritual philosophy where “the destiny of mankind is to take root amongst the stars”, and building a cohesive group of followers afterwards. Octavia Butler ended this novel with the passage from Luke 8:5-8, aka the Parable of Sower. (The book is a stand-alone itself, but there’s a sequel which belongs to the second book, called Parable of the Talents.)

If you like dystopian fictions, then this is the right book for you, even though it may be not an easy one, but it will keep you intrigued and interest with no doubt. This science-fiction book was originally published in 1993 and now reissued with its uncompromising appeal, brilliantly written by Afro-American author Octavia E.Butler. The ”grand dame of science fiction”, as she was named, was definitely ahead of her time as she scarily predicts and depicts the reality of the human condition and the problems we are living in and facing nowadays, especially in America, with a special focus on topics like terror, oppression, racism, religion, fight for survival but also desire of better humanity, persistence and hope. Yes, because she lets hope to have the last word.

New Daughters of Africa: An International Anthology of Writing by Women of African Descent by Margaret Busby

More than an anthology, it’s an inspiring and extraordinary “banquet of words”, as the female author Margaret Busby ends in the introduction of her book, where more than 200 African blooded women writers are united to proudly ignite their under-evaluated power and showing off it to the world. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Nikki Finney, Yrsa Daley Ward, Chinelo Okparanta, Esi Edugyan, Edwidge Danticat, Eve Ewing, Phillippa Yrsa De Villiers Roxane Gay, Imbolo Mbue, Minna Salami, Margo Jefferson, Nnedi Okorafor, Zadie Smith, Barbara Jenkins and so many more ‘sisters’ are on the list of this literary collection of work.

Thanks to these female creatures, they gift humanity with different genres such as memoirs, letters, autobiography, diaries, novels, brief stories, poetries, politics, essays, drama and more documents, which have kept black history alive, generation after generation.

It’s a must-read book because every woman writer takes the reader by the hand and graciously accompanies him/her through their journeys, talking about racism, oppression, slavery, sexualization, support, political problems, fight for freedom, sincere sisterhood, hope, social activism, strive for equality, independence, honour, female strength and power, love. And leaving everyone a full room to fill with the highest form of intensity and thoughtful inspiration.

History teaches, and invites all to rise up, never give up, cross all colours and limiting prejudices, and honour the past for a better future to write.

Disappearing Earth: A Novel by Julia Phillips

This fictional novel brings the reader in the unknown Kamchatka Peninsula in northeastern Russia, where two sisters, respectively 8 and 11-years old, disappear after accepting a ride from a stranger. After unsuccessful months of the police investigation, the story focuses each chapter to each person related to the two young missing girls, such as the witness, the detective, the neighbour, the student, the officer, ending with the sisters’ mother.

An intriguing interconnection of characters linked one another blended to the perfect description of the Russian tundra, mountains, the locale etc that concludes the book with a climax immersed in surprise and emotion.

Julia Phillips debut novel is full of crime, sense of empathy and suspense, emotion and imagination, and revolves around topics like loss, roles of women, family connection, undeniable cultural backgrounds, yearning, perseverance and love. It will be hard to put this book down, thanks to the female author’s brilliant sensorial and descriptive style and engaging writing, that captures each reader into another dimension, into the Russian small community seen through the human lens, chapter after chapter, character after character, word after word.

The Woman in the White Kimono: A Novel by Ana Johns

Ana Johns’ debut novel casts the two alternating stories of seventeen-year-old Naoko Nakamura living in post-World War II Japan, and investigative journalist Tori Kovac, living in America present day.

Naoko refuses to marry the son of her father’s business associate and falls in love with Jimmy, an American sailor, a gaijin never approved by her strict family’s rules, who take her as a spouse in a non-recognized marriage but he must sail away, breaking apart their story and lives into the ocean waters. Pregnant with the sailor’s child, the young Japanese woman falls under disgrace and shame, rejected by family and betraying people around her, trying to survive in the years to come, but never reaching her joy.

The past of Naoko’s story interweaves with the present life of American woman Tori, who is taking care of her dying father. He gives her a letter full of surprising secrets and a photograph of a woman in a white kimono. When the daughter finally decides to open the letter discovering the truth, she starts her research of the Japanese lady in the photo, reaching faraway Japanese lands to meet the past and set it free.

The love between different cultures embraces lost hope and newborn ones, rejection, family’s pride and prejudice, search for truth and redemption, in an exquisite frame of well-described details bond to the west and eastern cultures displayed in two different historical periods of time. With her beautiful wiring, the author creates subtle hues of suspense, dense atmosphere and invisible threads linking the strong and powerful stories of two courageous women, who stand up for themselves and walk their paths in honest truth, following their heart’s choices.


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