Review of Edem Awumey’s novel Dirty Feet

January 4, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

My review of Edem Awumey’s second novel, Dirty Feet, translated by Lazer Lederhendler, is now available online.

Awumey employs a spare, elliptical storytelling style that heightens the reader’s sense of Askia’s displacement: the villages through which he roams as a child are not described in any detail, and Olia’s portraits of the turbaned man who may be Askia’s father remain frustratingly elusive. The loft in which the man lived, and where he sat for Olia, is festooned with frescoes detailing the history of the Songhai Empire’s king Askia Mohammed. (The name is not a coincidence.) “No one knows who the artist was,” the turbaned man told Olia about the mural. “But the main thing is that it exists.”

The same could be said of Askia, a point that is reflected in the repeated question – “Who are you?” – he imagines reading in the photographer’s expression.

The rest of the review is up at the Quill & Quire website.