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Waiting for an Angel by Helon Habila

The Africa Reading Challenge asks folks to read five books about Africa or by African authors in 2008 and then review each book in a blog post. I’m good at the reading part, and I like the blogging part, but I’m a miserable reviewer. So you’ve been warned.

I found Helon Habila’s Waiting for an Angel on some list of great African literature somewhere linked from the original Africa Reading Challenge blog post. If for only this book, I am glad to be focusing my reading on Africa.

Waiting for an Angel is a short book, closer to a novella, really, or linked short stories. It focuses on a group of young people during a coup in Nigeria. Habila’s writing is quite lyrical. I’d say it reads like a poem, except poems aren’t always easy to follow. How about it reads like a flowing stream? Or maybe more like a whitewater river: always downstream, but big nasty rocks along the way (in the form of some really tragic happenings).

Okay, no more river metaphors from me. I’m trying to say this was a great book about very sad things. The end.


16 June 2008 - Posted by | africa, books


  1. i love your review! straight to the point! not a lot of literary mumbo jumbo. totally sweet. thank you!

    Comment by tukopamoja | 17 June 2008

  2. i’ve read “waiting for an angel” and i would say it was tough and sweet reading it…

    the book takes you through the tortuous paths of nigeria as nation-state in the early nineties through to the fall of the nineties…

    the adventure of love fought and lost; of battle won and victory not given…of the profundity of penury and hoping against hope…

    for me, it’s an overwhelming tales of all characters that come before you as pitiable as imaginable.

    everyone’s strength seems to be drained in the novel; and the reader too is drained in some ways too…but the book is unputdownable and it’s one of the few best books i’ve read all my life!

    Comment by beibee | 3 July 2008

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