Synopses & Reviews
The first Graywolf Press African Fiction Prize winner, a story of a girl's fantastical sea voyage to rescue her father
The House of Rust is an enchanting novel about a Hadhrami girl in Mombasa. When her fisherman father goes missing, Aisha takes to the sea on a magical boat made of a skeleton to rescue him. She is guided by a talking scholar's cat (and soon crows, goats, and other animals all have their say, too). On this journey Aisha meets three terrifying sea monsters. After she survives a final confrontation with Baba wa Papa, the father of all sharks, she rescues her own father, and hopes that life will return to normal. But at home, things only grow stranger.
Khadija Abdalla Bajaber's debut is a magical realist coming-of-age tale told through the lens of the Swahili and diasporic Hadhrami culture in Mombasa, Kenya. Richly descriptive and written with an imaginative hand and sharp eye for unusual detail, The House of Rust is a memorable novel by a thrilling new voice.
"Bajaber's depictions of Aisha's daring episodes and her feminist personality consistently shimmer. Fans of modern fairy tales will find much to appreciate." Publishers Weekly
"This is a novel of tradition, ritual, and mystical adventure…[A] tale rife with creatures and immersed in the Hadrami culture of Kenya." Kirkus Reviews
"Bajaber weaves together the mythical and the real and uses the cadences of the oral storytelling traditions of Kenya to create a remarkable coming- of-age narrative." Booklist
About the Author
Khadija Abdalla Bajaber is a Mombasarian writer of Hadhrami descent and the winner of the inaugural Graywolf Press Africa Prize. Her work has appeared in Enkare Review, Lolwe, and Down River Road, among other places. She lives in Mombasa, Kenya.