Date of release: 2019-01-09
Sold to: Finland: Atena Kustannus, France: Marabout, Germany: CulturBooks
This is a coming-of-age story set in Tanzania during the 1980s and the 1990s. Adi is born as seventh child to Kabongo and Amba Mukendi, a Zairean diplomat and his wife. The oldest children remain in Zaire, while Adi, her older sister Dina and their sickly little sister Mai live with their parents in Dar-es-Salaam. Every evening their father feeds them with words and punishes them for the slightest misbehaviour.
All families have their own myths and in Adi's case the ancient African tales of the ancestral curses are intermixed with the strict Christian God. The children are taught that the female body is something so unclean that it continuously must be chastened, and that given names hold so much power that they can fend off unrested spirits.
Adi is the young narrator who sees the world through a child's eyes. God is everywhere – sometimes in the shape of an ordinary boy with glasses and a notebook – and so is sex and the Devil.
Mai Means Water is a modern Bildungsroman, a story of how a girl is made. A tale of abuse that repeats itself in every generation. This is the story of Adi and her family, their curses and fates – from the cruelty of the Belgian colonists to the present day, as the siblings scatter around the world to escape the dark legacy.
WINNER OF THE KATAPULT PRIZE 2020
Read all the news from Norstedts Agency. Sign up for our free newsletter!