Synopses & Reviews
The path from Europe to Africa has been much traveled in literature but rarely in such an evocative, nuanced, and even playful way as in N.S. K÷enings's THEFT. Here are five seductive tales that move with grace and subtlety between the two continents and reveal with insight and wit that what seem to be very separate worlds are not so far apart after all. In Pearls to Swine, a lonely childless socialite invites her American goddaughter to spend the summer in her mansion. In Wondrous Strange, a spirit medium is haunted by the ghost of an ancient African djinn. In Setting Up Shop, a young Zanzibari woman dreams of traveling to the U.S., even as a local entrepeneur courts her relentlessly, even promising to leave his other wives for her. More praise for The Blue Taxi: The world K÷enings has created in her accomplished debut is tragic and exhilarating, as is her portrayal of weary, left-behind colonialists, poverty-stricken natives and the uneasy manner in which each regards the other.--Publishers Weekly K÷enings skillfully weaves together the stories of individuals from disparate cultures converging in a city that is entering a new era of political independence.--The New Yorker
"Personal strength and resiliency are recurrent themes in Kenings's surprising and inventive collection (after the novel The Blue Taxi) of five longish stories. They focus largely on relationships and loss, beginning with 'Pearls to Swine,' about a narrow-minded wealthy woman whose vision of herself as a magnanimous host is threatened when the invitation she extends to two young women has unforeseen consequences. Expectations are equally disrupted in the title story, which tracks the parallel mishaps that befall a nave female tourist in Africa and a bus ticket boy, Ezra. Assistance comes from the beyond in 'Wondrous Strange,' when at a sance a woman receives instructions from an African spirit regarding a ritual she might perform to revive her ailing husband, and by extension, her own sense of competency. Kenings's writing is dense but focused, and she often suggests the endings of her stories early on, allowing the reader to focus on the characters' reactions, thoughts and emotions. The collection's richness and complexity prove Kenings to be a skillful and imaginative storyteller." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
About the Author
N.S. Köenings holds a B.A. in African Studies from Bryn Mawr College and a Ph.D. in socio-cultural anthropology from Indiana University, where she also completed her M.F.A. in fiction. She currently teaches at Hampshire College.