Book Chat: Ordinary People by Diana Evans and The hundred wells of Salaga by Ayesha Haruna-Attah. Moderator Kinna Likimani by Tireni Odubiyi



‘My goal as a writer is to make history sexy,’ says Ayesha Haruna-Attah on her novel The Hundred Wells of Salaga which focuses on two women. One who is kidnapped and sold into slavery while the other is the daughter of a chief who becomes her mistress. Attah comments on how the theme of the book came to her while drawing up a family tree when she was in Ghana and realizing an ancestor of the tree was a slave. However, when trying to uncover the history of this female ancestor, “nobody would talk about it.”


Host Kinna Likimani notes that in Ghana there is a reluctance to acknowledge that a large population of Ghanaians are descendants of slaves. Ayesha’s novel aims to reclaim these stories, to tell them in ways that are accessible to people.


Diana Evans’ Ordinary People is intended to tell a different kind of story, creating a space in literature to explore the lives of Black British characters in their domesticity. The novel which is accompanied by a playlist for greater sensory experience, is about portraiture regarding marriage and long-term relationships.


A feature which connects the two novels is the diversity of female characters. Commenting on her choice to make her female protagonists sexually fluid, Ayesha Haruna-Attah says that African women are “viewed as monolithic people but we are not.” Similarly, in Ordinary People, although to some readers the character Stephanie comes across as one-dimensional due to her traditional aspirations, Diana Evans comments that, women should be able to live their lives however they want alongside feminism.