A Season for Mending by Margaret Muthee
Publisher: Bahati Books
Release Date: 2018
Genre: Short Stories
My Rating: 3 Stars
A Season For Mending is a short story collection that explores the endurance of the human spirit and the light and dark sides of human behavior. They include a story of an old man in a matatu who has escaped a house for the elderly, the customer turned into a conman, the baby at the doorstep of Patel’s flour mills company, the father who kidnaps his own children, amongst others.
The stories are set in Nairobi and revolve around the day to day challenges, hopes and dreams of people of living in the city. From the streets of Nairobi, to the chilling waters of river Chania, this book will take you on a journey that will drift you through life. It is guaranteed to take you gliding through the wheels of time not knowing where you might wind up.
A debut collection of short stories by Kenyan author Margaret Muthee, Season for Mending explores an expanse of themes in 14 short interesting stories. It opens up with ‘An Elusive Dream’ a story about a young lady who pegs her future on getting the support of a man or ‘sponsor’ and so when she meets Jose, a generous ‘wonnabe’ who is willing to financing the lifestyle she desires, with promises of a job, international trips, shopping sprees and a good life, she falls into it hook, line and sinker. Jose is however living beyond his means and finds himself entangled in a lot of debt. In his quest for making more money, he falls in the hands of con artists. Having lost everything, the protagonist contemplates walking away; with Jose being broke, there is no future for them. Quite an interesting reflective story that espouses this new or not so new phenomena of young girls exchanging love for money.
The stories are mostly set in Nairobi which I loved and revolve around different classes of people living in different circumstances and going through different experiences. On a wider scale, this felt like an actual reflection of Nairobi as a city and its inhabitants; the lady who has to take the train to Gikomba market and ends up getting conned and losing almost all of her day’s earning, A family dealing with their mentally ill mother who winds up dead and hidden in the ceiling of their home, a man who decides to end a relationship because his mother does not approve, another man who discovers that his ex-girlfriend his the existence of his child from him for five years and the politician who pawns off his children for sympathy votes. All these stories provide an intimate glimpse into the lives of the characters and the challenges they go through in their day to day lives.
The collection is an easy read and it is well written. The simplistic nature of the book could however be its strength and also its downfall, of course depending on the type of reader. In going through the stories, I was not particular wowed by the author’s style of writing or word play. The stories are told in a very basic simplistic way which could be a good thing for a beginner reader but for a reader who seeks depth in style, use of words and beyond the surface themes, this book might not be your cuppa tea.
For a debut however, Muthee has done a pretty good job and I am interested to see more of her works in the future. I enjoyed 7/14 stories which makes it a balanced read.
A copy of this book was advanced by Bahati Books in exchange for an honest review.