Review: Of goats and poisoned oranges

By | March 14, 2014

Of goats and poisoned oranges
Of goats and poisoned oranges by Ciku Kimeria
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a fun read, and I enjoyed the entire book–not just the story, which is fascinating and all-too-human, but the method the author used to reveal the plot. A shifting series of vignettes, newspaper clippings, internal dialogs, court and police transcripts, and phone calls slowly shows the encircling despair of Wambui, Njogu, and Nyambura, caught in the web of present-day and not-to-distant-past Kenya.

It’s the old, old story of love and life and the girdle of circumstances that arise as people grow and change. Wambui is the daughter of a rich family, Njogu is the son of a poor one, and when they meet they fall in love and marry. Njogu becomes wealthy in his own right, but as King David in the Bible had a wandering eye when he should have been tending to his business, Njogu meets Nyambura, a poor woman working to support herself in the big city of Nairobi. There are multiple intersections between the three, and catastrophes, and as in real life, dreams are shattered by diamonds scraping against the glass.

There are some great, witty lines and observations: “Books had been cooked, and a manhunt was underway for the chef” is one of my favorites, but there are others such as “English had failed [my mother] by not having a stronger word to describe her.”

Now, I must say that I had to re-read several passages in order to understand some of the details and background, but I chalk that up to my lack of familiarity with some of the social aspects of Kenya. Ms. Kimeria provides helpful footnotes throughout the book, and everything is eventually explained, but the text requires some careful attention in order to follow along at times.

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