|Title||:||Chaff On The Wind: A Novel|
|Number of Pages||:||208 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
Chaff On The Wind: A Novel Reviews
A nice enough read. A bit thick on words and a fairly inevitable ending. But I liked the characters and I liked the backdrop. Three stars.
Chaff on the Wind is a good story but suffers greatly from the way it is written. It tells the tale of Dinding and Pateh, two young Gambians who move to the big town from their villages full of ambition and youth, sporting very different attitudes. Dinding is more cautious, a planner, a hoarder. Pateh is spontanious and frivilous. Both show themselves to be exceptional, hard-working and find their own measures of success but, in the tradition of many African tragedies, life interveens to cut one of them down and the book ends without more than a whisper of sympathy, a kind of "that's life" morality that is harsh and sad.The social, historical and geographic background to the fast-paced coming of age stories is emotively constructed and very interesting. The town is painted in detail (village life, as befits the point of the story, a little disregarded) and the characters have a cheap Dickensian charm. Dinding and Pateh more than once come across as an echo of Oliver and the Artful Dodger. The side stories and settings, the market, the hierarchies in the trading business, the busy docks with the workers running with heavy sack laden backs, the colonial would-be queen of the natives, Madame, and her twee cast of naive colonials, the church and the conflicts between cultures, the soldiers taking black men to fight in Asia because they believed they would be used to fighting in the jungle, the glare and modernity of Dakar - Chaff on the Wind's 200 pages are packed with setting and history and it does leave an impression.Where Dibba falls down is in his wordiness and in the slightly embarassing dialogue (of which there is a lot). He explains too much, leaves little to the reader, including things that would have been better left unsaid, and analyses motives with too much of a need to categorise and put a name to emotions and feelings. The dialogue is a bit part of the characters and their relationship - Dibba puts a lot of emphasis on their friendly bantering, the exchange of insults and jibes. Unfortunately it's too long winded, often cliched and a too over-thought. Like a lot of moments in the book, the dialogue often feels taken from the movies, or television serials and, while this predictability doesn't harm the strength of the story itself, it does strip the writing of much of its character, not really lending it a unique feel. A fun read, an eye opening read in terms of place and time, but awkwardly and clumsily written. 3
I was delighted to get hold of a second-hand copy of this book by Gambian writer Ebou Dibba. It is a very enjoyable one to read.It tells the story of two young men who leave their villages and travel to the big city (Serekunda?) to experience more of life than the illiteracy and rural, agricultural traditions their homes had to offer them. Dinding's village and family are described in loving detail on the day he leaves and we know the memories will stay with him. Pateh's home life was less happy, so he has less nostalgia and we meet him on the boat travelling to the city. Their interests and attitudes when they are in the city are very different.The city is modern and cosmopolitan and the people they meet there are generally more sophisticated and Westernised. The contrast with the countryside is marked. The story is set in the years just before WWII (mostly 1937), when Gambia was a small British colony (not that it was ever a typical colony, more a mixture of trading post and naval base for attempts to stop the trans-Atlantic slave trade and keep an eye on the French). There are many types of trader in the book, so it gives some idea of the economy of the country as well as rural and urban life.
A really lovely story with a huge insight into Gambian culture - it certainly explained a few weird things I'd seen after returning home from the country!