Harmattan Rain by Ayesha Harruna Atah

Year of Publication: 2008

Genre: Fiction

Harmattan Rain, published by Per Ankh in 2008,   is the debut novel from the Ghanaian writer, Ayesha Harruna Attah. At 434 pages, the novel shows the depth of time and effort spent in writing it and I must confess that the first chapter alone hooked me in.

The book is divided into three parts and I like the fact that the story took the traditional title-chapter form which makes it an easy read as well as making it easier to grasp the meaning of a particular chapter at a time.

The novel starts strongly with Lizzie-Achiaa running away from her father’s home to the capital city, Accra intent on finding her lover who has disappeared. She also hopes to pursue her hopes of becoming a nurse. The first chapter makes you look ahead anxiously for what is to happen in the subsequent chapters. This, I think, is the mark of a good writer who builds your interest and suspense right from the beginning.

Over the course of the story, we follow three generations of women as they cope with family, love and life. In addition to Lizzie-Achia a, we meet Akua Afriyie, her first daughter, who strikes out on her own as a single parent. We also meet Akua-Afriyie’s daughter, Suri who grows up under the care of an overprotective mother. She eventually leaves home to study in the USA, where she encounters a life unlike her own childhood.

One of the many things I liked about the book was the inclusion of the contextual scenes which showcased the political history of Ghana. By the end of the novel, the reader learns a lot about the evolution of Ghanaian politics since the pre-independence era. This makes the book much more than a work of fiction. It serves as a major reservoir for future generations since a book is a living tissue. Atah’s great achievement is in managing to weave this much of Ghana’s political history of Ghana into the main story without boring the reader.

Harmattan Rain is an excellent debut and the author deserves to be commended. All in all, it is a good read. Fittingly, the book was shortlisted for the 2010 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, Africa Region.

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5 Responses to Harmattan Rain by Ayesha Harruna Atah

  1. I gave this book a somewhat good point. It was the book that started my review and promotion of African Literature. I attended her reading at Cuppa Cappuccino and it was the first book I had autographed. One reviewer described it as being only historical. Upon further reflections, I crawled a bit from it. I know she stayed over at Ayi Kwei’s place, Per Sesh writing group. I really wanted something to hit me from it but it never came and slightly over a year after reading it, I can’t recollect a major dazzling scene. I however, think that as a debut novel it is good work and I hope her second surpass the first.

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    • Geosi says:

      Nana, I understand you and I must say that I read your review and then the follow-up comments long before I did my review. But the point I want to make here is that, sooner or later, the Ama Attah Aidoo’s, Amma Darko’s and others may be fading out of the system and the question we ought to ask is that, who and who would be replacing them. In that sense, I had to support any promising young Ghanaian author like Ayesha although her debut novel may not be as strong as expected. So you have a very point there, Nana. We hope that her second novel surpasses the first just as you’ve said.

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  2. amymckie says:

    This sounds like a really interesting book. It appears to not be available here yet, but I’ll be on the lookout!

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  3. […] See my review of Ayesha Harruna Attah’s Harmattan Rain. […]

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