Offbeat tales that showcase a distinctive, if sometimes-preachy, authorial vision.


A collection of short stories that examines the nature of justice in a world full of spiritual forces.

In her latest set of five tales, Brisibe-Dorgu (A Path Similar, 2019, etc.) tells more mythically infused stories of families in Africa. As the characters face various crimes and injustices, readers are shown the ripple effects in the surrounding communities. In “A Lift, A Smile and…,” which opens the collection, sisters Ama-ere and Yeibiri marvel at how their city has changed for the worse: “If it is not armed gangs openly shooting at each other,” Yeibiri says, “it would be rapists moving from house to house or robbers raiding shops, homes or...” When the siblings are kidnapped, however, the story switches gears, becoming a meditation on the effects of abduction: “the trauma locked inside her mind will take quite a long time to unlock.” “No Escape” follows a young man named Agbainzo, who becomes “one of the most influential persons in the community” after succeeding in business, before facing a quick decline. After he commits murder, a high priestess foretells his imminent downfall: “May your outward life be a reflection of your inner torments.” Overall, these tales depict a world where justice can be achieved if mysterious hidden forces of life—dreams, visions, and spirits—align and will it so; however, the tone of the narratives verges on didactic at times; for example, good fortune only comes to those who “are ready to work honestly and diligently.” Although Brisibe-Dorgu’s fictional world is full of violence, it also possesses an intriguing, underlying sense of order that only priestesses, wise people, and visionaries can access. In “Odudu,” for instance, the title character struggles with disturbing dreams as he prepares for a wrestling match with his challenger Timi; he seeks help from a spiritual guide, who tells him, “My dear son, the help you seek is what I have been offering you since you set foot inside my house. You are thinking of something quite complex but life’s solutions are really simple.”

Offbeat tales that showcase a distinctive, if sometimes-preachy, authorial vision.

Pub Date: Feb. 27, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5462-3664-1

Page Count: 152

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2019

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...


Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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