A HAUNTING HERITAGE by Alasan Mansaray


Email this review


 A brisk, fun read that draws on the literary work of Chinua Achebe, but mixes it up with the distinctly American tone of a Terry McMillan or Bebe Moore Campbell. Mansaray, who was born in Sierra Leone and now lives in Texas, gives us the story of Yaya LaTale, an African who immigrates to the US in order to pursue his dream of wealth. Through Yaya's journey, we meet a community of African immigrants in New York, Philadelphia, Maryland, and D.C. We see the support he receives from cousins and friends, all young and ambitious. Mansaray captures the pulse of a young African generation, who came of age in the 1980s and ardently embraced the yuppie lifestyle. Yaya, his cousin Sidi, and their friends have tinges of Jay McInerney characters as their pursuit of the good life is complicated, though not impeded, by race. The author also touches the sometimes strained relations between African immigrants and African-Americans who have been in the US for generations. When Sidi meets his wife- to-be, Pat, at the Pizza Hut, she is dazzled by his dark skin and good looks. When she hears his accent, she thinks, ``I wish he were okay, like a real black brother. Then I would scream `Hey, come here baby!'... But these Africans or Cubans or Jamaicans?'' But when Pat sees Sidi's lush apartment, in a neighborhood ``a grade or two'' above the Philadelphia projects where she lives with her mother, she is determined to be his wife. As Yaya's story evolves, we are also witness to a view of the spiritual life of an African immigrant, and how the African ancestors are not always pleased by their progeny's abandonment of Africa and blind embrace of all that is American. An exciting debut novel by an African writer who clearly has many stories to share with an American audience. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-9639497-5-6
Page count: 352pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1995