BOOK REVIEW: ‘The Book of Echoes’ by Rosanna Amaka

‘The Book of Echoes’

The Blurb:

‘The Book of Echoes’ is narrated by the soul of an African slave woman, this is a searing debut novel about hope, redemption and the scars of history.

A sweeping, uplifting story of how a boy from Brixton and a girl from Lagos escape their dark past to find themselves a bright future.

1981: England looks forward to a new decade. But on the streets of Brixton, it’s hard to hold onto your dreams, especially if you are a young black man. Racial tensions rumble, and now Michael Watson might land in jail for a crime he did not commit.
Thousands of miles away, village girl Ngozi abandons her orange stall for the chance to work as a maid. Alone in a big city, Ngozi’s fortunes turn dark and soon both her heart and hopes are shattered.

From dusty roads to gritty pavements, Ngozi and Michael’s journey towards a better life is strewn with heartache and injustice. When they finally collide, their lives will be transformed for ever.

With irresistible joy and grace, Rosanna Amaka writes of people moving between worlds, and asks how we can heal and help each other. Humming with beauty and horror, tragedy and triumph, THE BOOK OF ECHOES is a powerful debut from an authentic new voice in British fiction.

Literandra Review:

The narrative style in ‘The Book of Echoes’ is both captivating and engaging. Rosanna Amaka has the qualities of a great story teller and has the ability to ensnare the reader in her exquisite yet accessible prose.

In ‘The Book of Echoes’, the magical is combined (and in dialogue) with the mundane. The present becomes the past, and the past becomes the present. It is as much an ancestor’s narrative as it is a current account of race relations, intergenerational trauma, family ties, and the everlasting love of mothers for their children. I felt the characters’ pain, love, resilience, and resistance in every line.

While the story is mystical and enchanting, some paragraphs felt a bit too orchestrated or predictable, and could have benefitted from more rigorous editing. With that being said, ‘The Book of Echoes’ is a fascinating read, and characters such as Wind accompany the storyline alongside the narrative voice’s recounting of past events. This is a story that needs to be felt, rather than understood. The author’s passion and pain for her characters is irrevocably present in the novel, which makes it even richer and allows it to feel personal and vulnerable.

‘The Book of Echoes’ reads like a personal re-imagination of one of the author’s ancestor’s lives, piecing a violently and perpetually broken lineage and family history back together.

The title itself – ‘The Book of Echoes’ – could not be more evocative. Echoes are everywhere in this novel: echoes of pain, of history, of spirits, of persons, of love, of violence. It is a timely novel about the evolving nature of the African diaspora, the everlasting legacy of the past, and the increasing need for remembrance and return.

 

*This book was gifted to me by the publisher ahead of the publication date in March 2020.