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Satellite image of Africa Photo of Najat El Hachmi description

Explore Africa! Click here to go to reviews of 20 great books written by African women.

We interview Najat El-Hachmi, author of The Last Patriarch.

Specters by Egyptian author Radwa Ashour, Chapter One

With this issue Belletrista is marking her second birthday! Over the past two years, all of us here at Belletrista have enjoyed bringing to you a diversity of women writers from around the world, so that we might celebrate together the richness and variety of their literature.

In this issue, we are featuring a special section of twenty reviews of books by women from Africa. While not an exhaustive selection, it's an excellent introduction to women's writing from a vast and varied continent. In keeping with our African theme, we have an exclusive interview with Moroccan/Catalan author Najat El-Hachmi, and an excerpt from Egyptian author Radwa Ashour's latest book to be translated into English. Of course, you'll also find our usual review section of interesting books from around the world, and our largest ever New & Notable section, packed with fine books for your reading pleasure. Whether you are a regular to these pages or a newcomer, thank you for being a Belletrista reader!

Click on 'Reviews' to see the full list of this issue's reviews...
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Ludmila Ulitskaya
Translated from the Russian by Arch Tait

Oswald Rufeisen might be called a saint; he lived a simple, selfless life, full of kindness and sacrifice. Truth is often greater than fiction, yet Ludmila Ulitskaya succeeds in fictionalising the life of Oswald Rufeisen as 'Daniel Stein' or Brother Daniel. She weaves a fascinating web of activity around Brother Daniel's life from his early life in Poland; through the years of the Second World War when he works for the Gestapo as an interpreter, yet saves many people from the Nazi death camps; to his years as a Jewish Catholic priest in Israel.

Reviewed by Ceri Evans
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Ana Menéndez

How does one escape? From what one does one need to escape? Why? Ana Menéndez's new collection of interlinked tales is all about escape artists, starting with the author herself. Each tale is attributed to a concocted author, for whom Menéndez has supplied an appropriately imaginative biographical note, including one for herself: "Ana Menéndez is the pseudonym of an imaginary writer and translator, invented, if not to lend coherence to this collection, at least to offer it the pretense of contemporary relevance."

Reviewed by Jane A. Jones
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Karen Lord

Barbadian author Karen Lord's Redemption in Indigo is based on a Senegalese folk tale which opens in the village of Makendha. Paama, an ordinary and good hearted woman whose cooking skills are revered throughout the region, has moved back home two years previously to live with her parents after leaving her husband Ansige, a gluttonous and arrogant man-child whose incessant demands became too much for his wife to satisfy.

Reviewed by Darryl Morris
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S. J. Finn

I inhale. Realign my chair, which slides a little too easily under me. I do have one niggling concern (there are several but this is the one that comes to mind): while I will go on feeling as transparent as air, what I'm about to put in writing will show itself in a dense hue, one that might even shock me. —With these thoughts we are introduced to Jen, now known as Monty, who goes on to simply and honestly recount the changes that have occurred in her life.

Reviewed by Judy Lim
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Monica Roffey

Glorious colours riotously abound in Monique Roffey's first novel: 'deep purples, maroons, reds and oranges'. It is set in a delicatessen cum cafe in Shepherd's Bush, London where large, ungainly August Chalmin presides over culinary riches.

Reviewed by Chris Mills

Ali Smith's
There But For the
Book Cover: There But for the
An extended review by Rachael Beale
If Written By a Woman
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The Caine Prize for African Writing 2011 – shortlist announced

The shortlist for this year’s Caine Prize has just been announced and three women are in the running for the prestigious award. This is always an exciting time of year – the Prize is a great way to discover short stories by excellent writers. Lucky for us, the Prize’s website links to a copy of …Read the Rest