I will admit, as a disclaimer, this was not one of my favorite novels, nor one of my favorite English classes of all time, so know that in advance.
One of my posts discussed earlier Ondaatje’s Anil’s Ghost, and its place as a political novel as well as a poetic novel, but I found when I read Our Sister Killjoy, that it was by far one of the most political novels I’ve ever read, and I think that’s what pulled my interest away.
Of all the novels I’ve read, I’ve never read one quite like this one. It jumps from prose to poetry, inner monologue to conversation, and you can hardly keep track of the narrative. The novel is very intentional in its structure, and its monologues by the main character Sissie and the narrator reflect perhaps the author’s own political frustrations, but I found it distracting and incredibly annoying at times.
The main story is of an African girl from Ghana named Sissie who is given the opportunity to study abroad in Europe. While in Germany, she meets Marija, a young housewife with a husband who is never home. They experience an interesting relationship, and Sissie encounters many things within their inter-racial interactions that reflect Euro-African relations, and bring up Sissie’s resentment towards colonialism, Europe, the English language, and other issues of racism and gender.
The other 2/3 of the novel is political rants turned poetry about colonialism, Europeans’ relations with Africans, and issues of human nature.
Definitely not my favorite novel, I think the tone was too angry and resentful to even find coherent themes or redeemable qualities, and there wasn’t enough time for character development or plot. The blank space was too filled with bitterness, and the words used, reeking with regret, resentment and unhappiness.
I’m trying to think of what mood you have to be in to read this book, but I really can’t think of one. The cross-cultural references are interesting, and the brief plot in the middle was intriguing, but overall, this book goes on my list of least favorites. You might come across this in an English class, and if you never read it, you won’t be missing anything!