Tag Archive: Dysfunctional family

While other events may have left much to be desired, 2017 was a goldmine for movies. Several countries produced a slew of important films. Masterpieces like “Get Out” and “Three Bilboards Outside of Edding, Missoura” from the US; “Hobbyhorse Revolution” from Finland; and “Strawberry Days” from Sweden. There were wondrous, deep, dark, and diverse stories told by the cinematic artists of the time. Stories about underpaid workers, and documentaries that explored girlhood through unusual hobbies.


Especially class and morally grey characters became a major subject in American cinema of the time, showcasing situations that lacked a clear right or wrong scenario. One of the most noticeable examples of this kind of film was the experimental biopic “I, Tonya”, directed by Craig Gillespie and starring Margot Robbie. It tells a Rashomon-style tale of the infamous figure skating star Tonya Harding. Harding was known for two things. The first is that she was the first American woman to land the difficult and sublime triple axel in US Championships. The second, however in contradistinction to this axel achievement, was the brutal attack her husband Jeff carried out on fellow athlete Nancy Kerrigan in 1991. The first, assuredly a wild accomplishment to the skating career of Ms Harding; the second a devious action that still has a obscuring shadow lingering over it, shrouding the extent of Hardings involvement. To this date the degree of participation is still wildly speculated upon and runs the gamut of total to no involvement whatsoever.

While “I, Tonya” has been marketed as a biopic, the film offers a lot more than a fall from grace celebrity tale. It is also a story that deconstructs the idea of a self-made person, detailing the spirals of domestic abuse and showcasing the complexities of truth. In fact, when this blogger had left the theatre with her friend and we were discussing it, the friend in question stated: “If anything, this film depicts that there is no bigger tragedy than that of a child who was not loved”.


“I, Tonya” opens by setting up the mock-documentary (mocumentary) like style, with a unseen camera crew interviewing Tonya, her ex-husband Jeff, her mother Lavona and her ex-coach Diane, all sitting down to recap Tonya’s life, leading up to “the incident”. The audience is introduced to the early girlhood of Tonya. Her childhood was imprinted through growing up lower class and marked by intense physical abused (almost daily, it seems) committed by her mother Lavona. In one particularly heartbreaking scene of her childhood, the young Tonya remembers being abandoned by her father, who she has seen as someone who she could turn to in troubled times. Despite her desperate pleas, her father eventually disappears, divorcing Lavona and leaving Tonya abandoned to the mercy of her abuser. The filmic narrative of Tonya’s childhood is the beginning development of a person created in the grasp of hopelessness and resentment.


Tonya’s adolescence and early youth forces her to a deeper alienation as her days are continuously marred with classist mocking from her peers, both at her school and at her skating lessons. Tonya mentions, between these childhood filmic flashbacks, that she has always consider herself, and been open about the stance of, “being a redneck”. This declaration is both an ironic echo of the dual shame and pride of her lower-class origins, as well as a implementation of the harsh narrative arch forming the later tale of Tonya.

When Tonya becomes a teen, she meets her future husband Jeff. They bond almost immediately. In one particularly telling scene, Tonya and Jeff meet up and Tonya talks about her fur-coat, saying: “I bought this recently, my family has money – my stepdad was unemployed for a while but now we have money”. Jeff replies with a simple, matter-of-fact “My family is poor”, which brings a smile to Tonya’s face. Tonya is used to having to hide her poverty, so much that she tiptoes around the fact when speaking with Jeff. When Jeff, whom Tonya is attracted to, openly speaks of being poor, this gives a clear comfort to Tonya. The smile that we the audience see on her face shows us that Jeff is one of the first people to give Tonya the sense that she doesn’t have to face a stigma for her upbringing. This hope is later crushed when the abuse begins, now at the hands of a new loved one, Jeff.


“I, Tonya”’s narrative structure delves into a number of possible scenarios in the manifestations of Jeff and Tonya’s relationship. Jeff in the interviews claims he was not abusive, and that it was Tonya who abused him. Tonya claims that Jeff hit her almost from the start of their relationship. The third option, haunting this interchange, and one the audience sees with a subtle third eye of the film, is that both were abusive towards one another. Lingering over this interaction the film effectually connects the violence Tonya experiences at her mother’s hands and the violence between Tonya and Jeff. In the mid-section of this montage we see a Jeff abusing Tonya followed unsettlingly with them immediately having sex. This filmic section breaks when the younger Tonya turns her head to the camera and states: “My mum hits me and she loves me, so it must be the same with Jeff, right?”. The destructive, horrid link of Abuse and Love is continued when Lavona berates Tonya for staying with Jeff despite the obvious bruises, to which Tonya states: “Well, where must I have gotten the idea that hitting is ok from then, huh?”. As all interchanges between the mother and daughter this tense conversation leads to Lavona hurling a knife into Tonya’s arm (a scene so shocking that the audience gasped in horror).




Tonya ensnared in a (potentially mutual) abusive relationship is narratively linked to her abusive childhood. Circling continually in the warp connection of love and abuse, Tonya has learned to normalize violence as well as her resentment and bitterness steaming from Lavona’s mistreatment. Oppression begins at home where the anger and violence are justified in toxic affection. What sad events were to unfold already found ground in Tonya’s house, community and life.

While skating gives Tonya a sense of purpose, it also is a place of great conflict; from early on, despite her performances being impressive, the judges give her lower scores due to her costumes that are, as the film shows, homemade. Tonya, due to not being able to afford the outfits expected of a skater, is furiously frustrated at the disadvantage her class gives her, and, when finally finding the voice to confront a judge about this injustice, pleads “can’t it just be about the skating?”. The fact that Tonya financially struggles as well as having a non-nuclear (or healthy) family is a burden which is not easily carried and is socially realized in the skating community when one judge admits to her low-scoring being a function of her class and not “having a wholesome American family”. The filmic narrative looks deep into the realities of class and deconstructs a very old idea of the self-made person and the American dream.



A Furious Tonya

Being from an abusive family, and revolving continually about those whose love is professed in the ambiguous intents of violence, it is not strange that we experience a Tonya that lingers in the fields of anger. The film shows a Tonya often unable to cope with her temper. These bouts of fury devolve quickly becoming often unpleasant and uncontrolled. These elongated episodes of rage combined with the stigma of “white trash” attached to a kitschy costumed Tonya creates a valley of unfair treatment by the judges to which Tonya is not able to emerge from.


Often, in the style of holding up the idea of the American dream, the rags to riches trope overlooks the fact that being poor is, as Chris Kraus stated in “I Love Dick”, more than just the physical experience of lacking basic things, but also a mental experience – one that can leave actual psychological wounds. People that are able to escape and survive poverty have to still deal with the painful memories; for example people who have gone hungry will develop “quirks” later on in life, due to the fear of experiencing hunger again. In stories of people moving from one class to another, the psychological complications are often ignored. To further complicate things, classist behavior also exhibits itself in different ways in our society. “I, Tonya” avoids these problematics and explores an honest depiction of class and surviving poverty without sugar-coating. The journey of moving from lower class to the field of a sport founded on the upper residues of society creates a plethora of problems, hesitations and even scars. It is far from the clear-cut move and simplistic revision, from lower to upper as our society naively states. Tonya’s navigates a complex set of emotions and social emotions in regard to her. She deals with the insecurities and stigma of being poor, and the scars and traps of a dysfuntional family (another aspect where people judge the poor more harshly than other classes). A new narrative towards the poor is necessary. One that shows the actual horrific struggles, imprinting of the deadly experience of poverty, and the harsh insecurities caused in great lack. This new narrative is springing forth and is essential to the grand understandings of all classes within our social systems. “I, Tonya”, doesn’t shy away from this new, uncomfortable and frank narrative.


Beyond the themes of class and abuse, “I, Tonya” has a great cast and uses the trope of the unreliable narrator excellently. The narrative progression of the film plays with the audiences expectations, granting the viewer space for their own interpretations, and opening speculation of how things may have truly have been. The uncertain is the progressive gear in the films structure and, in regards to the incident of the violent attack on another skater, the viewer is left unbound in knowing how much did Tonya and what understandings she had?

The film yields up a Tonya who is hot blooded and prone to anger, but is still a compelling anti-hero or anti-villain (depending on your interpretation). The characters are often unlikeable, but complex. The film is also visually stunning. When Tonya is first seen skating in competition, it feels like you’re on the ice with her. Moving, dynamic, uncertain, the film gives a ambiguous narrative of truth and a stunning visual of movement.


“I, Tonya” is a remarkable triumph: a movie about a controversial, upsetting subject that ends up saying much more than one would expect. It is definitely a film worth seeing in every sense of the word.

I Tonya - 2017

Today is the last day of Black History Month! In Honor of this, here’s some reading recommendations, from comics to novels to poetry.

Normal post will return in March!

Take Care/ Maaretta

(Trigger warning for discussions of Child physical abuse and Mental Illness)

Elina Hirvonen is a Finnish writer and documentary filmmaker residing in Helsinki who has written three novels to date with her first foray into the literary world being nominated for the2003 Finlandia Literary Prize. Her latest novel, “Kun aika loppuu” (“When Time Ends”) was published in 2014, and has been getting prominent praise for her insightful grappling with a slew of difficult political and existential questions highlighted with frank considerations and bare depictions of often grim subject matters,  such as mass suicides. Her cultural work as a writer also includes numerous columns in major newspapers such as “Helsingin Sanomat” which have detailed and delved into such diverse subject matters as censorship, racism and even into the questions and struggles of writing itself. Notably, in an interview with the newspaper “Kodin kuvalehti”,  Hirvonen candidly discussed the myriad of normative social pressures applied to us all with her recounting of her teenage years under the constant stress of trying to be a straight A student and to be constantly perfect. This pressure also meant that she felt forced into being constantly polite and happy, which lead to self-harm; something that the adults circling around her and her anxiousness seemed oblivious to. Hirvonen has made a name for herself in her frankness in her opinions, telling her own story of mental health and last, but by no least, writing books that brutally show the dark side in everyday life. This brings us to the review of her debut novel, “When I Forgot”.


When her debut was translated into English in 2009 the novel obtained a review in “The New York Times”, and was in 2014 translated into Swedish, where it saw an outpouring of favorable reviews from the Swedish literary press.  Both of these, along with being translated into Polish and other numerous languages, gave the book an international audience which is unusual for a Finnish Language novel and novelist. The story is a merger of narrative lines navigated between the course of a single day, and the exploration of memories triggered by its events. The plot is put into motion when Anna, a young woman, gets a phone call from her mother asking her to visit her brother in the psychiatric hospital in Helsinki. Anna is reluctant and expresses huge resentment towards her brother, stating her constant and adamant resolve to reject the company of her brother. This request for a visit to her brother unleashes memories of her first meeting of her soon to be American live-in boyfriend, and begins a mental wandering tracing the memory landscape of her childhood traumas.


Exploring the terrain of her childhood Anna recalls the vicious and abusive actions her father lashed out onto her older brother, beating him savagely. It is not only physical abuse Anna remembers her father committing; he was also frequently cruel and dismissive, unreservedly malicious regarding the deadly spiral of Joona´s growing mental health problems, which in turn seem to be inexorably linked to the violence Joona suffered at the hands of his father. Even in the midst of this obvious abuse to her brother, the deadly dynamics of this abuse casts Anna in a web of insecurity mentally making her see herself as secondary to Joona. This lethal doubt of Anna is fueled as the fathers own violence towards Joona being spontaneous and unpredictable, which are followed by a discordant favoring of Joona. The father also insisted that the family just simply ignore his violent behavior, and its effects on Joona´s mental health. Anna´s pathway through her memories fills her with guilt, horror, and exhaustions in the web of violence and ignorance – they bring her to many times struggle with taking care for her ill brother.


Original Finnish cover

Along with the strong narrative trail of weaving Anna’s past and present to explore her mental and moral struggles, the novel interestingly breaks this rotation of past and present in featured letters and papers Joona writes throughout his life, giving glimpses into his feelings of happiness, sadness and paranoia. And we find a added sphere of examination to Anna’s enclosure in the horrors of memory in Ian, her American boyfriend, who’s intersection with events entice another angle and question to the story .


I´ll try not to spoil too much, so this review is going to focus more on the themes in this novel. A major themed explored is family dynamics and domestic abuse. Anna is haunted by the violence her father played out on the body and mind of her brother, which leads her to feel uncertain and axious about herself as a individual. This violent past also haunts Joona insistently, as explored in the narrative device of the biographical papers he writes as a child detailing his growing unstable mind. The descriptions of the assaults are graphic, which makes them all the more unsettling. Even more disturbingly, one assault occurs after Joona lights a small fire; Anna´s narration makes it clear that he starts the fire because of his mental health problems. Despite this behavior being motivated by the growing mental problems in Joona, the father still fails to recognize this action as a current in Joona’s declining mental condition and viciously beats Joona.

Elina Hirvonen explores the toxic series of abuse and mental degradation in this scene detailing the horrific enclosure of abuse and its social/behavioral ramifications where it is ignored that the child´s disadvantages prove that their actions are out of their control, an aspect unhappily not often investigated in stories and media. “When I Forgot” explores societies silences around this aspect in child abuse and brings to light the ableism that sadly exist more than often in domestic abuse causes. Hirvonen stands on steady narrative grounds here as statistics actually have shown that a large percentage of children with disabilities and illnesses (whether physical or mental) are in fact more likely to face excessive violence in home environments.


Painting by Bruno Amadio

As hinted from this direction of the novels  themes comes also a nuanced examination into  the despairing struggles  of being mentally ill, and the conflicting feelings tormenting the loved ones operating around the individual with these dreadful battles. Joona, through the letters he writes, illustrates the fear and suspicion people around him express towards him in the midst of his battles of the mind. These letters describe a fierce rejection for openly and honestly admitting his health issues, both in dating scenes and in contact with his landlords. Anna on the other hand despairs that her brother may never have a normal life or even his own family. When others recognize Joona´s struggles with his mental issues, his opinions are directly discounted, his thoughts dismissed, and his personhood ignored. He is branded only as a mad man outside of community and the social. This aspect was particularly interestingly discussed in the novel, since Joona has legitimate concerns and thoughts about the world, but whenever his ideas or desires are expressed they are considered irrational at best, and nonsense in the usual case. However the mode of the narrative, and the line of thinking detailed in the novel, shows the reader that similar expressions, when stated by the “normal” actor, are taken seriously and considered evidently rational.  Hirvonen plays here with double standards. Actions/thoughts, even if irrational, are taken more seriously if we view the person as sane, if we don´t we dismiss the very same actions and thoughts.


Polish cover

Anna throughout the entire novel struggles with her role as caretaker for Joona. While usually these plotlines paint the ill loved one solely as a burden, Joona is explored in the novel in a much more subtle and complex fashion. His erratic behavior, while in most instances is a burden for Anna, have also occasionally bordered on the heroic in situations where she has needed him. Anna, also, honestly describes her own actions toward Joona as sibling rejection, and often as straight out betrayal. Anna has complex emotions in these situations; she loves Joona but is uncertain what to do about him most of the time. She wonders if her actions really help him or not, if she is a hand in stabilizing Joona or if she contributes to the shove downward adding to his misery. This despair is exposed on the surface of Anna’s ambivalence as reflected in the face of a Joona who may never be able to fit into society, to be seen as “normal”.


German cover

In the midst of this morass of confusions, though, we still see a Joona who attempts to grasp and control his own life and actions.  His narration is often motivated in the attempt to defend himself from rejections and accusations, and depicts a person with a deep sense of what´s right and what´s wrong. He has a strong moral compass, which tragically is drowned out often by his severe problems. And the relationship of brother and sister, regardless of the disintegrations of abuse and mind shattering problems, strives and achieves a strong bond. Under the guise of this bond and struggle the true trajectory of novel, transcending the horrors of abuse, could be read as Anna and Joona´s unconditional love for each other being tested, and whether or not it can remain. Intense stuff.


The final theme I want to discuss is the novels depiction of the growing Anti-Americanism that started to grow in the early 2000´s. At the onset of “When I Forgot” Ian, as an expat American,  struggles in Finland Post 9/11 and, with the Iraq war just emerging, he finds himself branded only as a political and social outlier. Ian has moved to Finland and speaks Finnish, yet can sense that his students and colleges at the University he works at are, quite unsubtly, being passive-aggressive towards him or aggressively dismissive. This escalates into full blown nasty remarks, which leads him mentally into a confused state and creates doubts about his identity to himself (since he doesn´t sit well with being “just another American”). Ian realizes that people will now look at him only through the distorting and singular prism of the nation/state.  As his own identity is quite tangential to the notion of a “nation”, and since he has few happy memories from back home, returning to the states seems an impossible option.  Hirvonen uses the cliqued reading of individuals as bounded by only state (as well as others are bound by race and ethnicity) and explores how this misreading (here the anger towards Americans) is a misguided and a confusion and often dripping with hypocrisy and self-righteousness.  Hirvonen explores how this mentality (which reduces individuals to nations, races, sexes, etc:) is injudicious and only makes Others who are guiltless a focus of hateful dismissal.  In this device the novel interrogates why Anti-Americanism (as with any prejudice: to racism, ageism, sexism) is so simplistic and toxic, especially inside of progressive movements (this can be accepted since Americans have “power”. But the reading should be individual as the government of a Nation should not be ideologically bound to individuals).


One of the most Infamous anti-American propaganda works

Being hostile to someone just for being from a nation, a religion, ethnicity, etc. shows our irrationality and inclinations for simplistic aggressions, and we can find great thanks that this form of “Othering” the individual is grappled with by Hirvonen in the midst of all of the other despairs and hates she explores in this strong and forceful work.

Go check this novel out. It´s got great themes, it´s short so it won´t be difficult to get trough, and it´s utterly touching. A solid work.

For another account on Anti-Americanism, check out Bess Rattnay´s account on it at Salon.

Before I begin this review, I want to tell a small anecdotal story: while skyping with my father one evening, I mentioned to him that I was reading a Zambian novel called “Patchwork”. I claimed it was a novel that dealt with such issues as “alcoholism, the stigma of being a child conceived through infidelity, class, the subtle stress of having a bully father, child molestation and domestic abuse”. My father responded in a bewildered voice: “Oh wow, that´s a lot of heavy subjects for one book to deal with. How long is it?”. “216 pages long” I said before adding: “Also, one of the protagonist´s friends dies due to an unsafe, illegal abortion”. My father was stunned by this bleak description.

For it is true, “Patchwork” is perhaps one of the most pessimistic books I´ve read in quite a while. It is also a book that truly stays in a reader´s mind and is very difficult to put down. It deals with stigma, class, family dynamics, mental health and the negative consequences of insecurity.


The opening lines in itself already say so much and are so intriguing: “I´m two different people according to the register of births. My birth was registered twice”. The main protagonist explains that her mother named her Natasha, but her father named her Pezo. However, everyone calls her Pumpkin. Pumpkin has always known that she is what´s considered “bad seed”. This leads her to being spiteful towards her neighbor’s children, who are partially her friends and partially victims to her bullying. Pumpkin insists to her friends that her rich self-made father brings her gifts and expensive dolls, but in her inner monologue she admits to herself the sad truth of not even beginning to be in any consideration to her father’s – Tata’s – priority. This situation is worsened by her mother’s alcoholism, which has tainted the previously loving relationship between daughter and mother: “I lay a towel lengthways on the floor. It used to be fluffy and pink. Ma used to wrap it round me and lift me out of the bath. She would jokingly ask me to hold it tight around myself so that no one could see my ´secret´. Now the towel is flat more cream than pink but it still keeps a secret”.


Despite Pumpkins and her mother’s best efforts, Tata finds out about the mothers alcoholism and at once takes Pumpkin to live with him, without asking his wife beforehand and despite Pumpkins mothers pleading to keep her child. There Pumpkin meets Mama T, her father’s self-centered wife and Sissi, a Zimbabwean housekeeper who takes a liking to Pumpkin.

At the new home for Pumpkin the nature of Tata’s a bully and pompous nature comes to blatantly reveal itself, and Mama T wallows and spews in open resentment towards the newly displaced Pumpkin. Pumpkin herself responds to this by committing to the fact of family hate and dysfunction directed towards her, and becomes the awful child image imposed on her. In one truly horrifying scene Pumpkin gets a man fired after betraying a promise to the same worker´s daughter – despite that it will probably lead to this family to starve. In an ordinary case this narrative device of the horrific protagonist – and sensitively dead, morally diseased secondary characters – would make a book falter due to its lack of a sympathetic ground and an ethical vertigo fundamentally embedded in the story arc; however Ms. Banda-Aaku´s beautiful prose and psychological insights guide the reader through the messy lives of these frightful and unappealing people.


The novel carefully shows Pumpkins internal torment and fright. She is in need to have her father talk to her, but he is oblivious to her. Mama T is clearly hurt by her husband’s betrayals and lives in a sphere of utter disrespect created for her by the distains of the patriarch (in one scene he maliciously mocks her activities at the church when she isn´t present). The characters are so superbly written, it´s psychological authentic feeling reminds me off Jelinek or even Dostoyevsky.

Banda-Aaku even deconstructs a number of common tropes in the narrative trajectory. For instance Pumpkins Grandmother, Grandma Ponga, is first introduced as a powerful, strong woman who takes no nonsense from anyone. But it is revealed in the unfolding of the novel that the grandmother secretly resents Pumpkin for causing a scandal in the family. Pumpkin states that while Grandma Ponga is kind to her, the grandmother’s overt and condemning body language places her continually in the depressing depths of self doubt and on the cusp of a constant nagging apology for her personhood. That Grandma Ponga owns a tavern is shown to both make her a cool old lady and a figure of fear: her fights with unpleasant customers are shown as both as awe inspiring in their steadfast resolve, but also as petrifying memories of uncontrolled, impulsive violence for Pumpkin.

“Poster” by Jazzberry Blue

Another character that toys with the readers expectations is Sissi, the housekeeper at Tata´s. While at first Sissi seems happy with her job and to love the family she works for, to be a stable person of few problems, it is soon shown not to encompass the entire truth. Sissi lives in the shadow of an alcoholic and abusive boyfriend who, despite that he drinks away all her money, she can´t find the strength to leave, since she loves him, as she explains to Pumpkin: “Love and hate are same-same”. Sissi also embraces a missing former husband who traveled to Zaire to find a fortune for his family and promised to return to endow Sissi with a slew of “emeralds”. The narration makes it clear that this husband is most likely dead, yet Sissi, turning face from the discouraging truth and reality, stumbles on in the dead dreams of denial: “He promised her he would be back and she´s still waiting. She often says, ´the day he comes back for me my days of washing clothes, polishing floors and referring fights in Tata´s house is over”. Despite her brave face, Sissi feels as much pain as the rest, and is no stereotypical domestic worker who only lives for her boss´ family.

There are brief descriptions of the Rhodesian war of independence which Zambia was partially involved in. It consisted of giving refuge to Zimbabwean rebels, which meant that the white colonizers eventually start bombing in Zambia as well. When bombings take place at Tata´s farm, Mama T enacts her most horrifying behavior in the entire book sending the family careening from the horror of war to the horror of the brutal family and back again.

Art by Patrick Gunderson

Art by Patrick Gunderson

In the later section of the novel we follow Pumpkin as a grown up having negotiated this deadly terrain of her childhood. She has become a woman locked into her past and we travel her adult life through an uncontrollable jealousy dissolving her marriage and a forlorn path of destructive decisions dovetailing in wounds to herself and those about her. Though passing off pains and deceits to the circle of friends and lovers about her, Pumpkin’s mind steps back from the horror of her own action’s and she ineffectually fumes at herself for these shows of torment visited on others.

It is also revealed that one of her playmates, Bee (who it was hinted at was being molested by the houseboy in the neighborhood at the early age of 12), was impregnated by a houseboy and had her first child at age 14. Pumpkin’s mother and grandmothers reactions to this abuse show both disquieting discomfort and horrific rationalizations of how Bee was probably fine with it coming finally to a mild concern that Pumpkin may have also been one of the houseboy’s victims. It is hinted that the adults’ can´t deal with failing the girl, and fear that they neglected the other children as well.

Ms. Ellen Banda-Aaku

Ms. Ellen Banda-Aaku

The book, not to reveal too much, has also a moment where the writing takes a certain skeptical turn. Pumpkin, due to several complications, comes to believe, near the end of the book, that she together with Bee´s mother has cast a curse. In her panic she explains this belief to Bee. However Bee rejects this idea as a paradoxical mixture of unaware superstition and mindful manipulation: “My mother is a herbalist and, yes, she has a strong sense of intuition, but she also sees a lot of things the rest of us don´t. if I took note of all the so-called evil spirits my mother sees around me I would spend my days carrying out endless rituals to get rid off them”. Bee says there are a lot of mind games in her mother’s work, which involve cold reading. It is very similar to the way so-called mediums, psychics and fortune tellers in the West operate. This struck my interest in that it is one of the first books written by an African writer to discuss skeptic viewpoints in a sympathetic way; Bee´s words ease Pumpkin´s guilt. This scene made me wonder if there will be featured more skeptic viewpoints in the future of African literature. Naturally, it would be good to also add here that atheist and skeptic themes are rare in all forms of literary fiction (and I haven´t read any of Wole Soyinka’s works yet, who supposedly talks about his agnosticism/atheism in his memoir).

Zambia´s flag

Zambia´s flag

This book is full of little moments and reflections on many more issues than I can mention in this blog post. It is intense, complex, sad and thought provoking. It is cynical in that mistakes are continually made, communication is neglected and past secrets remain secrets. A bitter take on humans, “Patchwork” claims that some relationships are broken beyond repair.