A Book of Blues is a collection of thirteen contemporary stories, 'threaded with the constant pulse of music.' The first story, 'Beach Boy' explores ethnic tensions and stereotypes in Lamu. Palermo is frustrated when the local young men call him mzungu, Swahili for white man: 'to hear it referred to him meant they knew where he came from but didn't give a damn about heritage and culture and roots, or any of the things he'd been writing about for ten years, possibly more.' The local young men are intimidating and hostile, and the reader becomes increasingly anxious for Palermo's safety as the story progresses, but the final scene is one of contrast rather than conflict. In other stories, a young mother in 'All Woman' practically sings the reader through prose that is written in a dialect so precise and musical, it can almost be heard. In 'Spider Man' jealousy sneaks up 'like a jewel thief' to wreak a relationship and in 'White Goods' a spider tattoo itches when the narrator is about to come into luck. Never predictable, fresh and entertaining, A Book of Blues is a cracking collection.
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Read a review of A Book of Blues here.