Khadija Abdalla Bajaber

The first of two programs today that will traverse the world is this with award-winning debut novelist and poet Khadija Abdalla Bajaber, who will be with us in Seattle’s sister city of Mombasa, with her utterly beguiling, knowing novel, The House of Rust. Chosen by A. Igoni Barrett as the winner of Graywolf Press’ inaugural African Fiction Prize, this is the coming-of-age tale of a young girl unlike any other we know, one involving real quests, trials, other-than-human powers encountered.

“Join a girl and a talking cat on a magical realist sea voyage.In this debut novel, Aisha, a Mombasa girl, goes to sea on a boat made of a fish skeleton to find her missing father. Accompanying her is a wise, skinny, yellow, and very talkative cat, Hamza. This is magical realism, Kenya-style. The author reaches into the mythology of her Hadrami culture to conjure talking animals and discursive sea creatures as she charts her heroine’s journey from home and back … This is a novel of tradition, ritual, and mystical adventure … An adventure tale rife with creatures and immersed in the Hadrami culture of Kenya.” - Kirkus Reviews.

“Khadija Abdalla Bajaber’s sentences are lasers, probing the crenellations and crevices of the human heart … The House of Rust is as labyrinthine, magical, and multilayered as Mombasa itself …”- Shailja Patel. 

“A radiant addition to the constellations of transcultural literature.”- Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor.



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The House of Rust: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781644450680
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Graywolf Press - October 19th, 2021

Virtually Hosted by Elliott Bay Book Company
Saturday, December 4, 2021 - 10:00am
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