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Overall, Ali shows an almost anthropological interest in his characters, and a keen eye for the humanistic detail: a richly...

Ten lively, polished stories from Ghanian-American writer Ali about the transformation of Africa from old country to new.

Ali’s tales alternate between a hometown setting of Zongo Street—a densely populated neighborhood of Ghana’s bustling city of Kumasi, where the locals toil as small merchants—and the ethnic neighborhoods of New York City, where young Ghanian immigrants strive to make modern wages in predominantly white America. First, on Zongo Street, the 91-year-old Uwargida, one of the four widows of the Hausa King, shuffles out nightly to regale the neighborhood children with scary mythological tales, such as the story of the eternal dueling between the devil boy and the priest in “The Story of Day and Night.” In “Mallam Sile,” the eponymous bachelor tea-seller on Zongo Street marries the big, strong lady named Abeeba, whose daunting brawn intimidates her husband’s customers into settling their bills. “The Manhood Test” recounts hilariously the poignant events leading up to a husband’s having to prove his virility to his wife publicly while the old-lady lafiree judges. In “Man Pass Man,” the local swindler’s mean tricks on people lead to a terrifying interview with the devil himself. Transplanted to America, Ghanians have to tread carefully amid the entrenched racism of whites. In “Rachmaninov,” a young Ghanian artist hooks up drunkenly with a rich blonde American woman in the city and spends a terrifying night trying to sober her up rather than call 911 and risk a racial backlash. A Brooklyn musician in “The True Aryan” has to endure a tedious lecture in multicultural empathy by his Armenian cab driver; while the vulnerable domestic worker in “Live-in,” Shatu, a widow seeking work to support her three children back in Ghana, undergoes hostility from her elderly Long Island charge and untoward attention from her employer.

Overall, Ali shows an almost anthropological interest in his characters, and a keen eye for the humanistic detail: a richly rewarding cultural study.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-06-052354-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2005

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The thirty-one stories of the late Flannery O'Connor, collected for the first time. In addition to the nineteen stories gathered in her lifetime in Everything That Rises Must Converge (1965) and A Good Man is Hard to Find (1955) there are twelve previously published here and there. Flannery O'Connor's last story, "The Geranium," is a rewritten version of the first which appears here, submitted in 1947 for her master's thesis at the State University of Iowa.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1971

ISBN: 0374515360

Page Count: 555

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1971

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It's being called a novel, but it is more a hybrid: short-stories/essays/confessions about the Vietnam War—the subject that O'Brien reasonably comes back to with every book. Some of these stories/memoirs are very good in their starkness and factualness: the title piece, about what a foot soldier actually has on him (weights included) at any given time, lends a palpability that makes the emotional freight (fear, horror, guilt) correspond superbly. Maybe the most moving piece here is "On The Rainy River," about a draftee's ambivalence about going, and how he decided to go: "I would go to war—I would kill and maybe die—because I was embarrassed not to." But so much else is so structurally coy that real effects are muted and disadvantaged: O'Brien is writing a book more about earnestness than about war, and the peekaboos of this isn't really me but of course it truly is serve no true purpose. They make this an annoyingly arty book, hiding more than not behind Hemingwayesque time-signatures and puerile repetitions about war (and memory and everything else, for that matter) being hell and heaven both. A disappointment.

Pub Date: March 28, 1990

ISBN: 0618706410

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1990

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