A House that Holds a Family

This House is Not for Sale: A Novel, by E. C. Osondu, (Harper), 192 pages, release date 3 February, 2015

While the title makes clear that This House Is Not for Sale is a novel, I felt it read more like a collection of short stories. Each chapter is focused on a different character (with the exception of one character who gets two chapters). The common threads that hold these stories together are Grandpa, the patriarch of the family, and the house itself.

This book is set in a neighborhood that is transitioning from tradition to modernity within an unnamed African country. The family who live here are extensive: a collection of blood relatives; any number of non-relatives who have achieved the status of “Auntie” or “Uncle”; a collection of children who work for Grandpa and serve as collateral on monies their parent have borrowed from him; and a constantly changing group of the homeless and those down on their luck.

Most of the stories/chapters have smallish arcs. A cousin newly arrived from another area impresses the other children with his worldly knowledge, most of which is inaccurate at best. A peddler of cloth and women’s clothes move up the economic ladder and back down again.

This is a book to read when one feels settled enough to enjoy its slow pace and to appreciate the process of getting to know the characters.

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