It was a good evening for this. One of those hot London days when Summer is happening properly and there’s actual cause for shorts. After walking up and down Bellendon Road and noting some shops I’d never seen before, I stepped into Review (somehow, also never seen before). It’s a cute independent bookshop run by the lovely Katia….look out for Paperback Social’s profile on it pretty soon.
Who Is Mr Donkor?
Michael Donkor is a Londoner born in 1985 to Ghanaian parents and works as a teacher in a girl’s school (one of his students even turned up for the reading!). He read English at Oxford and was generally encouraged to read loads at home. This is a very Ghanaian thing. He came out as gay to his family in his 20s. This is not a very Ghanaian thing. Donkor worked in publishing for a while before moving on to writing ‘Hold’, published by 4th Estate in 2018
Check him out in The Guardian’s New Faces Of Fiction for 2018
Hold is a story about a house girl, Belinda, who is transported from Ghana to London to live with Nana and Doctor Otuo, expatriate Ghanaians. Rather than work for them, Belinda is expected to befriend and somewhat ‘repair’ their spoiled daughter Amma despite a clear cultural divide. Left behind is Mary, an eleven year old house girl who Belinda sees as a younger sister and phones often.
Some stuff from the Q&A….
- The author has an interest in the intersection of sexuality and what it is to be Ghanaian, hich he explores in the book. There’s a lot to unearth here from his own experience, coupled with the fact that hanaian culture can be very conservative on the topic. I know ‘The Talk’ is very short in Ghana. It goes like this: “Don’t do it”.
- Donkor based the main characters, Belinda and Mary, on house girls he’d come across on his trips to Ghana. Everywhere but silent, these girls definitely have stories of their own that nobody bothers to hear. It’s a pretty commonplace to all but ignore house girls so there will probably be some commentary on class
- Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a big influence on his writing- can only be a good thing
- He Lived in Fulham and went to school in South London, also lived in Brixton for a while so his location references in the book are well-informed. One of the aspects I’m most looking forward to as well as the Ghanaian references and humour
- Donkor’s reading of excerpts this evening was quite comical, there is a humorous element to the book. He mentions that he’s seen quite a few Nollywood movies and tried to capture the sentiment of them- these are often dramatic to the extreme and unintentionally hilarious. Also can be painful both physically and emotionally
Will post a review once read!