MixedThe Times Literary Supplement (UK)Some of these stories were first published individually, and as standalones they are dazzling, haunting, angular and funny. There is a freedom to Osunde’s borderless writing, which captures the unruliness of a twenty-first-century city while exposing the hypocrisies of its rulers, yet still finds amid the chaos possibilities for resistance. Taken as a whole, however, Vagabonds! can seem involuted. In part this is because, while the short story so often turns on something metaphysical, an unfathomable mystery only hinted at (see Joy Williams, for example, a master of the form), the expansiveness of the novel demands greater perspective. By presenting a series of bundled tales, Osunde is able to convey a metropolis heaving with parallel lives, but she loses intellectual coherence and the meaning of the novel’s metaphysics remains obscure. Are the gods tyrants or liberators? Is godliness something everyone should aspire to, or are we simply worshipping the wrong gods? ... It is a poignant finale, but the author’s decision to equip ordinary people with supernatural capabilities feels less like a sleight of hand than a dodge, undermining the radicalism of her vision by imagining a world in which power has simply been transferred from one realm to another. Osunde has said that she wants Vagabonds! to act as a road map, helping the dispossessed to change the real world. But the novel’s spectacular coup de théâtre leaves the reader wondering whether challenges to power can only be imagined as acts of magic.
PositiveTimes Literary Supplement (UK)While it may appear that British fiction is now an encompassing, multicultural affair, Nadifa Mohamed’s novels challenge this idea. They portray physical and psychological landscapes that are largely absent from the canon of a country yet to come fully to terms with its colonial past ... What distinguishes The Fortune Men from...earlier works about immigrant experience is the level of (controlled) rage on display. Perhaps this can be attributed to the fact that, although seventy years separate the story and its telling, Mohamed’s descriptions of racist violence are still shamefully relevant ... Mohamed does not grant herself the leeway of creative circumvention, preferring to stay within the confines of the realist form, revealing the intractability of the system that betrayed Mattan, and his cognitive dissonance in the face of its injustice.
MixedThe Times Literary Supplement (UK)Gun Island is a novel about migration – as all climate fiction must be ... here dolphin pods beach themselves, snakes and spiders are forced out of their habitats, and humans (and other animals) embark on perilous journeys across the globe ... All the while Ghosh takes aim at those he believes responsible for waging a battle between \'profit and nature\' ... The failure to listen to others, and to act on what we learn, is central to Ghosh’s book. Why, imperilled as we are, do we not respond in ways that science tells us to? ... The ambition and complexity of Ghosh’s novel means that at times it can feel weighed down by information. This is particularly true of Cinta, on whom much of the burden of explication falls. More subtly worked in is Ghosh’s theme of linguistic migration...