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Things They Lost

Published by Oneworld Publications
Distributed by Simon & Schuster
LIST PRICE ₹667.00

A Vulture 'Book We Can't Wait to Read in 2022'

From the 2014 Caine Prize winner comes an astonishing new novel, riven through with mystery and magic, about a daughter’s quest to save her mother

Ayosa is a wandering spirit – joyous and filled to the brim with longing. Her only companions in her grandmother's crumbling house are as lonely as Ayosa herself: the ghostly Fatumas, the sullen milkman and Sindano, the owner of a café that no one ever visits.

But a curse hangs over the women in Ayosa’s family, a curse which has blighted the life of her mother, Nabumbo Promise. When her new friend Mbiu offers her an alternative life, one that would involve leaving Nabumbo Promise behind, Ayosa must decide how much she owes her fearsome, mercurial mama.

Set at the intersection of the spirit world and the human one, suffused with Kenyan folklore and myth, Things They Lost is an unforgettable novel about love at its most intoxicating, from a standout new literary voice.

  • Publisher: Oneworld Publications (April 14, 2022)
  • Length: 368 pages
  • ISBN13: 9780861543885

'A wondrous newborn - mewling, dewy, twinkling, gurgling a tale steeped in the acrid surrealism of childhood, populated by wicked wraiths and held together by the vicious spell mothers can cast on their daughters.'

– Leila Aboulela, author of Bird Summons

'A narrative so profound, its humour shining so bright, that you’d think the author had written hundreds of books to have mastered the art of perpetual storytelling. A stunning debut!'

– Onyeka Nwelue, author of The Strangers of Braamfontein

'From the start, Oduor – a winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing, among other honours – broadcasts her tremendous talents... Come for the beguiling narrative, and stay for the rich, evocative language.'

– Vulture

'A coming-of-age tale that deftly refuses to play magic realism straight, Okwiri Oduor's Things they Lost blends the phantasmagoria of Tutuola's The Palm-Wine Drinkard with the deadpan, wry humour of Bolaño. A welcome new Kenyan voice.'

– Olufemi Terry, author of Stickfighting Days

'Otherworldly, unconventional, delectably surreal. One of the most magical and exhilarating introductions to a main character. Okwiri has taken language, sculpted something new and splendid out of it to deliver to the world. An array of some of the most memorable 'in-between-worlds' characters enter the literary world from Mapeli Town with aplomb. What a debut! What a gift!'

– Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor, author of The Dragonfly Sea