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Tropical Fish: Tales from Entebbeby Doreen Baingana
Synopses & Reviews
In her fiction debut, Doreen Baingana follows a Ugandan girl as she navigates the uncertain terrain of adolescence. Set mostly in pastoral Entebbe with stops in the cities Kampala and Los Angeles, Tropical Fish depicts the reality of life for Christine Mugisha and her family after Idi Amins dictatorship.
Three of the eight chapters are told from the point of view of Christines two older sisters, Patti, a born-again Christian who finds herself starving at her boarding school, and Rosa, a free spirit who tries to “magically” seduce one of her teachers. But the star of Tropical Fish is Christine, whom we accompany from her first wobbly steps in high heels, to her encounters with the first-world conveniences and alienation of America, to her return home to Uganda.
As the Mugishas cope with Ugandas collapsing infrastructure, they also contend with the universal themes of family cohesion, sex and relationships, disease, betrayal, and spirituality. Anyone dipping into Bainganas incandescent, widely acclaimed novel will enjoy their immersion in the world of this talented newcomer.
*Winner of the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Book in the Africa region
*Winner of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) Award Series in Short Fiction
*Winner of the Washington Writing Prize for Short Fiction
*Finalist for the Caine Prize in African Writing
"Ugandan-born Baingana chronicles in her debut collection of linked stories the lives of three sisters growing up in Entebbe after the fall of Idi Amin. Though most of the stories take place in Africa, 'Lost in Los Angeles' follows the principal character, Christine Mugisha, as she travels to California, where she grapples with a different breed of racism than she faces in her own country. The title story, 'Tropical Fish,' follows Christine's apathetic affair with an older, affluent white man who woos her with the many perks of his money. 'A Thank-You Note' is a letter from Christine's older sister, Rosa, to an ex-lover that angrily and poignantly recounts her battle with AIDS. Baingana's characters are confined by a passivity and powerlessness (Christine likens herself to a plastic doll) rarely broken, though the collection ends on a hopeful note, as Christine rejoins her mother and sister Patti — Rosa has already died — thinking about how she 'would have to learn all over again how to live in this new old place called home.' Baingana's richly detailed stories are lush with cultural commentary. (On sale Sept. 12)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
About the Author
DOREEN BAINGANA received an M.F.A. from the University of Maryland and a law degree from Makerere University in Kampala. She lives in Rockville, Maryland.
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