Liberian Saah Millimono’s debut is a moving account of a boy’s life in a time of crisi. Tarnue is at times clear-eyed and wise beyond his years, at others bewildered by the impact of national upheaval on his already challenging existence as Charles Taylor’s forces enter Liberia. Millimono’s is a brave, honest voice. With prose that is authentic and spare, this story of one boy caught up in cataclysmic events is a powerful indictment of the trauma, and the pity,of war.
The policeman’s grin broadens. He pounces. Long fingers. A girl would shave her head for fingers like his. He spits on my finger, and draws out the ring with his teeth; the ring I have worn for 18 years – from the day I was recognized by the priests as a man and a prince. It was supposed to have been passed on to the son I do not have. The policeman twists my hand this way and that, his tongue caught between his teeth; a study in concentrated avarice.
Taty is a troubled adolescent living with her equally troubled mother in the suburbs of the lowlands. In a moment of uncontrolled anger she finds her life changed forever and, hiding a terrible secret, she becomes a runaway, heading West into the Outzone. When she is captured by a malicious imp, befriended by an evangelising robotic nun and wooed by a transgender hoodlum, it soon becomes clear that this is no ordinary adventure story. With moustachioed wrestlers, marauding Buddhist Punks, a feline voodoo surgeon and the enigmatic presence of the disfigured Dr. Dali, Nikhil Singh has created a unique universe and a heroine whose petulant nonchalance hides a mighty spirit. As Taty navigates the collapse of an already chaotic society, struggling against present danger while confronting the demons of her own past, her story is narrated in prose that soars with elegance and swagger in equal measure. Taty Went West is an introduction to an electrifying new talent – an imagination unfettered by any known convention..