#249 Petals of Blood

For some reason when I got the library reminder email that I needed to return this book the next day I interpreted it as needing to return it because I couldn’t renew it and spent last night frantically finishing it off – but in hindsight I don’t think that was the case at all ! Anyway I suppose it was good because I’ve been cycling to work recently so miss out on 30+ mins on the bus there and back of reading every day and haven’t got through it as quickly as I might have otherwise – especially because it’s a good book and so sitting down to finish it off properly last night wasn’t tedious in the slightest.
When I picked up Petals of Blood I did think for a second that it might be a shame to read it so soon after Arrow of God (I rented them both at the same time), as critics of the 1001 books so often say that it is pitifully devoid of non Western literature to read two African books almost in one sitting – and also perhaps run the risk of just comparing the two while they’re both so fresh in my mind – but I don’t feel the need to do that at all (despite them having similar themes to some extent) because they were both so good in their own right.
Petals of Blood centres around the Kenyan village Ilmorog and its inhabitants: in particular the four non Ilmorog natives – Munira, Karega, Wanja, and Abdulla and their part in the town’s recent history and transformation to New Ilmorog (and their own transformations during this time). As their relationships develop during the novel they also discover that their own histories intertwine with each other, and with common enemies and hardships. The book begins with three local prominent businessmen having been killed and the four characters having been arrested for their potential involvement, then backtracks to Munira’s arrival in Ilmorog as it recounts each of their histories in turn, occasionally returning to the book’s “present” and the interrogations of the inspector investigating the murders. Each of the characters were fully formed, well written and engaging (unlike some of the books I’ve read recently) which made it much more of a pleasure to read and I would definitely recommend it.

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