Title: Diplomatic Pounds and Other Stories
Author: Ama Ata Aidoo
Publisher: Ayebia Clarke Publishers Ltd, UK
Publication Date: 2012
Reason for reading: For the Ghanaian Literature Week hosted by Kinna
A collection of twelve fine short stories (the third) written by the celebrated Ghanaian author, Ama Ata Aidoo, Diplomatic Pounds and Other Stories is about every day concerns relating to women, age, love, marriage, class, war and poverty, cultural issues and identity.
Ms Aidoo approaches these concerns in a candid manner, with a fresh and unique perspective, delving deep into the psyche of the characters in a bid to make the reader understand where they are coming from and where they are going, especially where she questions old traditions and long-held views in Ghana. I see this also as an attempt to make the reader identify and perhaps sympathize with the characters. Most of the characters are strong-willed and assertive, all the more so to buttress the poignancy of these concerns and consequences.
The author makes good use of humour extensively in her narration. In her own delicate but powerful style she engages the reader through her own brand of diction, a spicy mix of precise choice words, phrases and proverbs stringing together to form beautiful narrative with a pure Ghanaian feel. Transliterations abound here and on occasion, certain phrases or sentences cannot be properly translated to create the desired impact unless it is translated directly from the local dialect.
In No Nuts, a good dose of the Fante dialect is sprinkled in the narrative for the desired effect and for good measure.
Both Diplomatic Pounds, the title story and Mixed Messages are a frank look into women’s obsession with weight where Ama Ata Aidoo offers two interesting sides of the coin in a clearly humorous manner.
Issues of race and or skin colour and gender are given prominence in the collection through stories like Outfoxed, Rain and Did you Ever? In the latter the following powerful statement by Koku says it all.
‘Yes, where I come from girls don’t matter. Nobody wants them. Only boys are desired, cherished….‘ p42
Recipe for a Stone Meal is a powerfully poignant two page story of the effects of war in Africa, told simply and seemingly seamlessly.
Feely Feely is the only story among the collection which gives insight into the lives of a father and son.
I highly recommend Diplomatic Pounds and Other Stories to all lovers of the short story genre and African literature for its fresh presentation of how ordinary and everyday issues affect us ‘modern’ women. I most certainly identified with some of the concerns. 🙂
To learn more about the author please visit here