Veena Gokhale comes to the blog today with a story that is exposing issues that many don’t consider in the name of progress: the people that are most directly affected by changes that take their traditions, homes, livelihoods and futures. Please read on for my review of
Land for Fatimah
Opening with a story of demolition of a slum in India: wiping out historic and familial ties, and being part of the childhood history of Anjali, one of the voices in this story. Now in Africa, she is working with the Aanke people, who have received notice to vacate their traditional lands (and industry) to make way for a cocoa plantation. Here I where Fatimah’s story comes forward as she is determined to fight both the eviction and the lack of planning for her people’s resettlement. Here is where the story actually becomes one of multiple dimensions: the poorer being moved in the name of progress: their limited options and resources to fight, or perhaps even survive the battle that foreshadows the loss of traditions and history.
The beauty of the landscape is presented through Anjali’s eyes, giving those unfamiliar with the country a sense of place and allowing the imagination to fill in moments with visual references, exploring the diversity from one place to another: not just in traditions and tribes, but in the landscape that helped to form and provide for them. But, this is ultimately about the challenges- both as an aid worker in the country, but the struggles between progress, profit and people – and raises questions about the ability of traditions existing with progress, or if one necessarily overtakes and consumes the other.
All four of the voices here have a different view and priority, and these will clash often as the personal interest is often in conflict or opposite to the view that is ‘best for the group’, and there is no denying that poverty and thus the political power that does not exist without a strong financial backing are huge players in this tale, and sometimes there is just no way that everyone will come out winning. An interesting and thoughtful story that should be on your shelf, for these issues will become more prevalent world-wide as progress in the name of profits continue to rule – and seeing the impact, small and large, is important in informing your stance.
Title: Land for Fatimah
Author: Veena Gokhale
Genre: Assimilation, Historic Elements, Literary Fiction /Family Saga, Multi-Cultural, Political Elements, Refugee Stories, Setting: Africa
Published by: Guernica Editions
Published on: 1 March, 2018
Source: Publisher Via Edelweiss
Get Your Copy: Amazon
Four strong women: Anjali, an Indo-Canadian single mother who eagerly accepts an African posting with her non-profit organization; Grace, her dedicated but dominating colleague, who opposes her; Fatimah, a farmer ousted from her home and fertile farmland, whom Anjali befriends; and Mary, Anjali's kindly maid, who must secure the future of her son, Gabriel.
In Land for Fatimah, Anjali involves herself in Fatimah's quest to find new land for her scattered community, and is thrown into a web of intrigue that upturns her safe, orderly world. Capturing the warmth and vitality of Africa, illuminating everyday heroism, the novel explores expat life, the forced displacement of the poor and the complexities of development.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher Via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.