Writings of the general word's body

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Slavery - Alternative Voices 2

"I am a human being; I am a woman; I am a black woman; I am an African. Once I was free; then I was captured and became a slave; but inside me, I have never been a slave, inside me here and here, I am still a free woman." In the course of three hundred years some twelve million Africans were forcibly transported across the Atlantic to serve European settlers and their descendants. Only the barest fragments of their stories have survived. Manu Herbstein's ambitious, meticulously researched and moving novel sets out to recreate one of these lives, following Ama, its eponymous heroine, from her home in the Sahel, through Kumase at the height of Asante power, and Elmina, centre of the Dutch slave trade, to a sugar plantation in Brazil. "This is story telling on a grand scale," writes Tony Simões da Silva. "In Ama, Herbstein creates a work of literature that celebrates the resilience of human beings while denouncing the inscrutable nature of their cruelty. By focusing on the brutalisation of Ama's body, and on the psychological scars of her experiences, Herbstein dramatises the collective trauma of slavery through the story of a single African woman. Ama echoes the views of writers, historians and philosophers of the African diaspora who have argued that the phenomenon of slavery is inextricable from the deepest foundations of contemporary western civilisation."
  • Ama - A Story of the Atlantic Slave Trade, written by Manu Herbstein, winner of the 2002 Commonwealth Writers Prize for the best first book. Visit the website & buy the book.

2 comments:

sokari said...

I going to buy Ama when in London but to be honest I am buying it with some scepticism

I have just finished reading "Women in South African History" (review up this weekend) which was excellent and I would recommend it as the essential reading for this year.

Wordsbody said...

Hi Sokari,

It'd be good if you were to outline what your scepticism might be - because for now we don't know.

MW