Am I a literary hoax?

There’s a big fat sign in the corner of my blog. Have you noticed?

This is the blog from the Storymoja blog this week.

I have been struggling valiantly to read Dust by Yvonne Owuor. My cousin has hailed it as one of the greatest novels of its time; she says something about nuances and descriptions and the true depiction of Kenyan life evolving through neo-colonialism…something…something…really great…something…something.

I can’t seem to get past page 3.

And I thought it was just me, but I am not the only one. I asked my friend, who reads far more than me, if she was reading it – she is plodding through as well. I even asked the significant other to give it a go – he said that it was too ‘artsy’ for him.
Now before you look down your artsy noses at me (well. I am sure it is already too late), consider this: not everyone loves the greatest books, and not all the greatest books considered so by people are actually the greatest.

Surely though, you protest, she is one of the only Kenyans to have gotten the Caine Prize? (With any luck though, Okwiri Oduor will wow their socks off with her generally stupendous je-ne-sais-quoi. Who’s being artsy now?) That couldn’t have happened if they found her language bombastic, her descriptions overly flowery and her though process convoluted?

Well, let’s just say it’s a good thing I was not on the board. (A girl can dream…)

I like my writing the way I like my poetry and my people: simple. I am planning to release a book of poetry which will probably be the easiest thing to read since the Run Spot Run fables of our childhoods (or Anansi, depending on what your parents preferred). I cannot abide complicated writing.

And this ranges through to the books I read. I won’t read Shakespeare unless you force me to do it – I mean, yes, I will like it, but it will have to be dependent on a grade or a gun to my head. A child I tutor had to read Romeo and Juliet for school last term and I thought it was atrocious that a 12 year old should have to read about love –something she can barely identify with – involuntarily? I mean, I read Romeo and Juliet at about that age, but I wasn’t being forced to take a test on it. I think Shakespeare is a bit difficult even for word lovers.

Is it a terrible thing that I enjoy Marian Keyes and C.S. Lewis more? Is it so horrific that some of my favourite books are children’s ones, with short easy paragraphs and snappy, snarky action? Think of the worlds of Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton, and how much easier being a reader was then. Why must we overcomplicate what we must read? Do we intend to sound more intelligent? Is it that much like a certain tribe that I belong to cough, a sentence isn’t a sentence without at least 4 words containing 4 or 5 syllables? Or is it all a show?

Look, I admit it. I haven’t read all the books one who considers themselves a book lover ‘should’ read. But that doesn’t make me less of a book lover and it doesn’t mean I have to keep trying to read shudder that book. If I was a manuscript editor (another one of my dreams) I would probably toss ¾ of the material that comes my way and just glance over the next ‘novel of the century’. And that’s ok. Because for every Audacity of Hope/Paulo Coelho touter (yes, I know that is not a word), there has to be someone on the other side able to have an hour long discussion on How Sweet Valley Should Have Ended, right?

…originally posted here.


p.s. Or Hardy Boys…or Tom Swift…or Cricket…whatever your poison…

4 thoughts on “Am I a literary hoax?

  1. “Is it a terrible thing that I enjoy Marian Keyes and C.S. Lewis more? Is it so horrific that some of my favourite books are children’s ones, with short easy paragraphs and snappy, snarky action?”

    The ending of The Last Battle. Just. Wow. Bittersweet.

    But some children's books; I just can't. The Hobbit, for instance. I share some of the blame because, in my own peculiar order of doing things, I read it after The Lord of the Rings. But that book is maddening and credit to Peter Jackson, the two films so far have been adapted to perfection and are just as annoying.


  2. Aaaaaaaah Akel, I finally find someone who gets it! I mean why make words a pain on my mind….it is like trying to get a Louis V design on a runway, I can't! Though i try to get Shakespeare hahah was my high school set book

  3. 100 years of solitude is supposed to be the best novel ever written, no? Well, after 2 years of admiring it on my bookshelf I finally picked it up and… was meh. Maybe it's just me.

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