SHORTLISTED FOR THE AUTHOR'S CLUB FIRST NOVEL AWARD, THE RSL CHRISTOPHER BLAND PRIZE and THE HWA DEBUT CROWN AWARD
'A new classic' SARA COLLINS, author of THE CONFESSIONS OF FRANNIE LANGTON
'Impassioned. Lyrical and affecting' GUARDIAN
Brixton 1981. Sixteen-year-old Michael is already on the wrong side of the law. In in his community, where job opportunities are low and drug-running is high, this is nothing new.
But when Michael falls for Ngozi, a vibrant young immigrant from the Nigerian village of Obowi, their startling connection runs far deeper than they realise.
Narrated by the spirit of an African woman who lost her life on a slave ship two centuries earlier, her powerful story reveals how Michael and Ngozi's struggle for happiness began many lifetimes ago.
Through haunting, lyrical words, one unforgettable message resonates: love, hope and unity will heal us all.
'A searing, rhapsodic novel. Filled with beauty, devastation and the power of ancestral connections that ripple through the ages' IRENOSEN OKOJIE, author of NUDIBRANCH
'A gorgeous book' ALEX WHEATLE, author of BRIXTON ROCK
Readers love THE BOOK OF ECHOES:
'A powerful and honest debut which is going to stay with me for a long time' *****
'You can feel Amaka's passion rising off the page' *****
'BRILLIANT, thoughtful and masterfully crafted' *****
'Oh my goodness, the book itself is even more beautiful and haunting than the cover' *****
The opening of “The Book of Echoes” at West India Docks, London in 1803 was a very powerful and emotional start to this poignant and at times harrowing story. Narrated by the spirit of a kidnapped African slave, she roams the streets, houses and lives of people, together with her lover ‘Wind’, endlessly searching for their lost child.
The story then jumps nearly two hundred years and we see into the lives of Michael, who is struggling to stay out of trouble after the brutal murder of his step mother and Ngozi, a servant girl struggling to escape her low-caste status in a poor sun-baked village in Nigeria.
Throughout the story we are privy to how Michael and Ngozi’s lives change rapidly through the years and at times it was heartbreaking to read. I enjoyed reading (though it was exceedingly sad) the intermittent chapters of the ghostly narrator and her backstory with the distressing slave ships and how she was so brutally kidnapped.
There were many memorable moments to the story, slavery, the Brixton riots, the plight of blacks in South London as they tried to make a life for themselves and poor Ngozi as she faces the abuse and trauma of man after man she encounters, through to the disappearing of black communities due to recent gentrifications of areas and subsequent emigration.
“The Book of Echoes” is a redemptive story of how trans-generational trauma and racism can destroy a person but how resilience, survival and all the good things in life can instinctively turn lives around. I did thoroughly enjoy this book but felt it petered out a bit towards the ending and didn’t quite impact on me the way I was expecting and hoping by the denouement.
Saying that, this is still a well deserved four star book for a timely, intricately written, beautiful story that highlights the struggles of African men and women and how slowly we are eliminating the world of racism and the bigotry that accompanies it.
The author Rosanna Amaka is a debut writer and has spent the last twenty years composing and writing this book, to give voice to the Brixton community she grew up in and a wish to promote the understanding of the impact history has on present day lives.
It is without doubt that Rosanna will be writing more novels, I just hope we don’t have to wait another twenty years to read it! “The Book of Echoes” is highly recommended.
4 well deserved stars!