Publisher/Year: Recorded Books, 2011 (book first published in 2003)
Length: 10 hours, 53 minutes
Narrated by: Lisette Lecat
What it is: Kambali is a privileged, 15-year-old Nigerian girl growing up under the harsh rule of her abusive father, a well-respected man in their community. A brief stay at her aunt’s house shows her just how different life could be, but a military coup soon shatters her peaceful environment.
Why I read it: I had never read anything by Adichie (I know, I know), so I figured I should start at the beginning.
What I thought: I wanted to like this book more than I did. Parts of it were amazing. Adichie was wonderful at creating the tense atmosphere as a result of the domestic violence taking place inside Kambali’s home, and this fear extended to nearly every aspect of Kambali’s life, guiding her actions and shaping the way she interacted with others. At fifteen, she’s soft-spoken and naive about so many things that girls her age — even those less privileged — take for granted. But overall, I felt it dragged too much and was at times a chore to get back to. It probably didn’t help that the narrator was the slowest reader ever.
Blasphemy by Sherman Alexie
Publisher/Year: Grove Press, 2012
What it is: A collection of old and new short stories, mostly dealing with male Native Americans from Spokane.
Why I read it: I’m an Alexie fan.
What I thought: Of all the Alexie books I’ve read (I think this was the fifth) this is definitely the one with the darkest undertone. About half of the stories had been previously published and I’d read several of them, but much of the newer material had an angrier and sadder edge to it. As with most of his books, his characters often face the some of the more common problems affecting Native American communities — mostly racism, alcoholism, depression and poverty — and the stories only show a tiny snippet of the characters’ lives. There were a few weak stories, but it was interesting to compare his older and newer work side by side.