Gabriela Babnik : Dry season
Set against the backdrop of the harmattan, the dry season in West Africa, this novel is a must read for anyone who enjoys brilliant literary writing with strong and intense characters.
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Defying convention, 62-year-old Ana abandons her life as a wife and mother in Ljubljana, Slovenia, and meets Ismael, a 27-year-old from Burkina Faso who was brought up on the street, where he was often the victim of abuse. What unites them is the loneliness of their bodies, a tragic childhood and the dry Harmattan season during which neither nature nor love can flourish. Ana soon realizes that the gulf between them is not caused by the colour of their skin or by the age difference between them, but mostly by her belonging to the Western culture and the differences in the concepts of East and West. Sex does not conquer loneliness, and repressed secrets from the past surface into a world she sees as much crueller and, at the same time, more innocent than her own. Cleverly written as an alternating narrative of both sides in the relationship, the novel is interlaced with magic realism, while fragments of African political reality often intrude on the narrative and a special place is the novel is reserved for one of the key figures of African cinematography, Senegalese film director Djibril Diop Mambéty.
The winner of the 2013 European Union Prize for Literature breaks the mould of what we usually expect from a writer from a small Central European nation. With a global perspective, Gabriela Babnik takes on the themes of racism, the role of women in modern society and the loneliness of the human condition.