review WAITING FOR AN ANGEL

Every established writer has made his first steps on the literary scene.
His first publication.
His first review.
With this book we go back into time. To the beginnings of the Nigerian writer Helon Habila (1967). In 2001 he won the Caine Prize for African Literature with the short story ‘Love Poems’, in which he describes the life of Lomba in prison. He writes notes. He writes poems. He writes love poems. One day his living quarters are being searched and the commander of the prison complex discovers that Lomba aspires to be a writer and poet. He demands poems from Lomba, for he wants to read these poems to a young lady, whom he wants to marry. He pretends to be the writer of these poems. This short story is at the very beginning of the compilation published in this book.
Other parts of this book (in a somewhat different appearance), had been published in ‘Prison Stories’ (2000) published by Epik Books Lagos. When his novel ‘Waiting for an angel’ was published in 2002, he was awarded the Commonwealth Prize for Best First Novel (Africa Region) in the following year.

‘Waiting for an Angel’ is a captivating book about ordinary people who at times, during oppression, during hardship, during military rule, become a little bit less ordinary. He writes about people in prison, people suffering from military rule, suffering from hardship, while others gain benefits. Lomba, prisoner and journalist for the magazine The Dial, meets people when he travels and works and tries to lay his hands upon the changing of the times. He has his dream of being a writer. But how will he be able to turn his dream into reality? He struggles on and on. Being encouraged and being held back. His chief at the magazine tries to encourage him. I enjoyed especially his characterization of Morgan Street (of Poverty Street), a short street with a colourful population. People with their dreams, their mechanisms of survival, their attempts to survive life, their attempts to improve their situation and the demonstration at the office of the local administration.

A good read.

Helon Habila
Waiting for an angel
Penguin/Hamish Hamilton 2002

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semper

I enjoy reading about Africa. New books. Old books. By African writers. By non-African writers. Novel. History. Travel. Biographies. Autobiographies. Politics. Colonialism. Poetry.

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