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Our Sister Killjoy [Paperback]

Ama Ata Aidoo
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 36.95
Price: CDN$ 32.45 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Book Description

Aug. 19 1997 0582308453 978-0582308459 1
Out of Africa with her degree and her all seeing eyes comes Sissie. She comes to Europe, to a land of towering mountains and low grey skies and tries to makes sense of it all. What is she doing here? Why aren't the natives friendly? And what will she do when she goes back home? A profound version of the theme of self discovery, this novel explores the thoughts and experiences of a Ghanaian girl on her travels in Europe. It is a highly personal exploration of the conflicts between Africa and Europe, between men and women, and between a complacent acceptance of the status quo and a passionate desire to reform a rotten world.

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About the Author

Ama Ata Aidoo, one of Africa's leading feminist writers, was born and educated in Ghana. She obtained a B.A. degree in English at the University of Ghana and has taught at universities in Ghana, Tanzania and Kenya. Her concerns as a writer, a woman and a teacher of literature have encouraged her to travel and lecture extensively in Africa, Europe and North America. Ama Ata Aidoo continues to write short stories, radio plays and poetry.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully written and insightful Jan. 15 2009
Format:Paperback
My favourite Aidoo book. While I am hesitant to endorse it because of its latent homophobia, I found its scathing postcolonial analysis of Germany and Ghana really wonderfully placed within the larger narrative. It's gendered analyses and explorations of race are also wonderful. Aidoo is a brilliant writer of prose. There was a brilliant interweaving of poetry within the larger framework of Our Sister Killjoy which made it that much more nuanced as well as enjoyable to read. I strongly recommend it and give it 4 1/2 out of five stars instead of five simply because of my stated caveat above.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, complex novel April 16 2000
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
It took me a while to understand the structure of this book, but after I did, it made the themes and Aidoo's narration that much more powerful. The story is told from a young female student's p.o.v.--Sissie is chosen to "represent" Ghana and travels to Europe. In Germany, she befriends a local woman named Marija. During her travels, she grapples with issues regarding colonialism, race, love and nationality.
The novel jumps between prose and poetry, from unbiased narration to the jumbled thoughts running through Sissie's head. There are little treasures that could go un-noticed: the use of "Sissie" as the name, the plums, the story of Kunle's death. This is a story rich with meaning, and a very quick read. I highly recommend it.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, complex novel April 16 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
It took me a while to understand the structure of this book, but after I did, it made the themes and Aidoo's narration that much more powerful. The story is told from a young female student's p.o.v.--Sissie is chosen to "represent" Ghana and travels to Europe. In Germany, she befriends a local woman named Marija. During her travels, she grapples with issues regarding colonialism, race, love and nationality.
The novel jumps between prose and poetry, from unbiased narration to the jumbled thoughts running through Sissie's head. There are little treasures that could go un-noticed: the use of "Sissie" as the name, the plums, the story of Kunle's death. This is a story rich with meaning, and a very quick read. I highly recommend it.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Resurrecting Writers Series: Ama Ata Aidoo Nov. 7 2010
By Tichaona M. Chinyelu - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
If you were to ask who my favorite African woman writer is, my mind would immediately go to Ama Ata Aidoo and her novel Our Sister Killjoy. Detailing an African woman student's journey throughout Europe, the main character, Sissie, is the novelistic equivalent of a phrase I love: the sun is on a different trajectory. To put it more clearly, in "exchange" for an European education, Sissie is supposed to follow the sun's path and settle in the West. However, after her studies, she returns to Ghana.

I have often said that calling black literature "fiction" is a bit of a misnomer. Fiction is defined as "any form of narrative which deals, in part or in whole, with events that are not factual, but rather, imaginary and invented by its author(s)". The accepted practice of censoring black voices, I believe, has led us to call our literature fiction as opposed to a term that reflects the understanding that what might not be factual, in whole or in part, in white literature, might actually be factual, in whole or in part, in black literature.

My parents and their siblings, were like Sissie - African students sent West to gain knowledge it was assumed would be brought back home. Unlike Sissie, however, my parents and their siblings didn`t return to Africa - except for periodic visits. As their child, born and raised in the West, the things I experienced growing up in a culture which, from inception, has denigrated Africans and African culture, have led me to the belief that the price for such education was too high. Taking such history into account, there is no way this novel wouldn't resonate with me.

The chapter of this prose poem that I liked the most is the last one, entitled A Love Letter. As the name suggests, it is indeed a love letter but one written after the cessation of a relationship, not at its apex. Sissie, who was given the appellation "killjoy" (although qualified by the words "Our Sister") due to what her lover refers to as her "anti-Western neurosis". In this section, Our Sister gives a litany of reasons of why she is uncomfortable in the West; reasons which range from artificial heat to combat the cold to eating food which causes her to break out in hives; reasons which boil down to the simple fact that she "...sometimes, missed plain palm-oil on boiled greens".

That feeling, generalized as homesickness, transformed in Our Sister's mind to spending "many sleepless nights trying to understand why, after finishing their studies, our brothers and sisters stay here and stay and stay.

After all, was it not part of the original idea that we should come to these alien places, study what we can of what they know and then go back home?

As it has turned out, we come and clearly learn how to die. Yes, that must be it. And it is quite weird. To come all this way just to learn how to die from a people whose own survival instincts have not failed them once yet. Not once."

[...]
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Uncomfortable April 4 2007
By Not Miss Havisham - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Just because something is different, outside one's normal experience or way of thinking, does not mean it is not of value. Reading this poetic novel was a hugely uncomfortable experience for me. Being a westerner some of the truths and opinions Aidoo expressed came from an unexpected angle, forcing me to look at my values and beliefs afresh. This makes the book less enjoyable perhaps, the truth can hurt as can opinions, but not any the less clever or well constructed. I guess it attacks political systems rather than individual people. The concept that many white people regard their black African friends as trophies (and I can think of some examples around me), made me examine my relationships with some of my African friends. Some of Aidoo's views do seem really extreme to me, however. As an immigrant myself, I don't relate to the concept that it is an abandonement of one's true identity and homeland in favour of selfish pursuits to emigrate. Maybe I would have liked to have seen more of a recognition that being part of this world is a global experience, I don't know. An extremely valuable read, I learnt lots.
4.0 out of 5 stars school book Sept. 9 2013
By via - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is required for my literature class. It came in a timely manner and was in decent condition, which fit the cheap price.
3.0 out of 5 stars Not for casual reading April 18 2013
By 2stents - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought this because it's one of three African novels my daughter is reading for a college course, and I thought it would be interesting to read what she is reading. Unlike the other two novels (Sozaboy and Heart of Darkness), I didn't find this an easy or engrossing read. There is certainly a political point of view, which is presented in interesting ways, including a lot of poetry, so it might make for interesting analysis, if you needed to write a college paper. But for a casual read, not so much.
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