Author: Dilman Dila
Publisher: Black Letter Media.
Synopsis: A killing in the sun is a collection of speculative fiction from Africa. It draws from the rich oral culture of the author’s childhood, to tell a wide variety of stories. Some of these stories are set in a futuristic Africa, where technology has transformed everyday life and a dark force rules. Others are set in the present day, with refugee aliens from outer space, ghosts haunting brides and grooms, evil scientists stalking villages, and greedy corporations creating apocalypses. There are murder mysteries, tales of reincarnation and of the walking dead, and alternative worlds whose themes any reader will identify with. This collection is deftly crafted, running along the thin boundary of speculative and literary genres.
Review: Don’t shoot me, but before 2014, I had an issue with this genre. I didn’t like reading speculative fiction and fantasy stories. Why, you ask? Because I thought that this genre wasn’t as grounded in reality as the others are. This, of course, is not true. My problem was that I hadn’t read as many speculative fiction and fantasy books or that I had read books whose world building was not great at all. And then I landed on writers like Nnedi Okorafor, Laura Beukes, N.K Jemisin, Nalo Hopkinson, Octavia Butler, I am hooked. This has quickly become one of my favourite genres.
Dilman’s style of writing is seamless and very much engaging. It grips you right from the beginning that you won’t want each story to end. As you can probably tell, I am definitely going to have a problem critiquing the book because I loved it.
There are ten short stories in this collection, I found myself wanting more. These stories are not just consumed, they’re to be savoured.
Here’s a brief look at each of the stories.
In The Leafy Man, we get an inkling into how wrong an experimental cure for malaria can go. Were the author to ever expand this story, it would make an absolutely brilliant sci-fi novel.
The Healer delves into the age old elephant in a lot of rooms that we don’t like to talk about, tradition versus religion. Is one good and the other evil? It also takes into account religion’s mass brainwashing of people. This story, for me, is probably my favourite and I think this because it reads like a Nnedi Okorafor story.
Itanda Bridge, wonderful story that is simply written as well. Speaking truths about the inequality between a civilian and the African military man.
A Killing in the Sun, is the titular story that was shortlisted for the 2013 Commonwealth Short Story Prize and it is quite simply one of the the more descriptive stories I’ve ever read. I could feel every single emotion of the main character.
The Doctor’s Truck angered me. Which is a good thing. And the vindication at the end was much appreciated. It spoke of how an African can be manipulated and taken advantage of because of our lack of education.
Lights on water is another one of my favourites. It is very beautiful, with the easy descriptive language and flow. I would love to see this become a fully fledged fantasy novel. It is set in a futuristic Africa.
The Yellow people and Okello’s Honeymoon are some of the more scary stories. With his simple story telling, these stories will stick in your mind, long after you’ve put the book down.
A Bloodline of Blades, this story a nice way to conclude this beautiful collection. It’s a fantasy story that tries to answer how far a parent will go to protect a child. I’d also love to see this story in a full length book.
I’m a big fan of Dilman Dila and I love what he’s doing for this genre. I can’t wait to read his new book that comes out next month titled A Fledgeling Abiba.