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Reviews of Call and Response by Gothataone Moeng

Call and Response

Stories

by Gothataone Moeng

Call and Response by Gothataone Moeng X
Call and Response by Gothataone Moeng
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Feb 2023, 304 pages

    Paperback:
    Feb 2024, 304 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Valerie Morales
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About this Book

Book Summary

Richly drawn stories about the lives of ordinary families in contemporary Botswana as they navigate relationships, tradition and caretaking in a rapidly changing world.

A young widow adheres to the expectations of wearing mourning clothes for nearly a year, though she's unsure what the traditions mean or whether she is ready to meet the world without their protection. An older sister returns home from a confusing time in America, only to explain at every turn why she's left the land of opportunity. A younger sister hides her sexual exploits from her family, while her older brother openly flaunts his infidelity.

The stories collected in Call and Response are strongly anchored in place - in the village of Serowe, where the author is from, and in Gaborone, the capital city of Botswana – charting the emotional journeys of women seeking love and opportunity beyond the barriers of custom and circumstance.  

Gothataone Moeng is part of a new generation of writers coming out of Africa whose voices are ready to explode onto the literary scene. In the tradition of writers like Chimamanda Adiche and Jhumpa Lahiri, she offers us insight into communities, experiences and landscapes through stories that are cinematic in their sweep, with unforgettable female protagonists.



Viking Books was unable to provide an excerpt of this book for use on BookBrowse, but there is a short excerpt available on their website.




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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Moeng's talent as a writer is that she doesn't settle for the easy narrative. Her characters are complicated and layered and she writes with empathy, making us care about these women. Botswana is a sparsely populated country in a part of the world that gets little international attention, yet the vulnerability of Moeng's characters strikes a resonant chord of shared experience, reminding the reader that women are women all over the globe...continued

Full Review (709 words)

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(Reviewed by Valerie Morales).

Media Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
A lovely debut brimming with deeply felt and well-rounded stories.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Botswanan writer Moeng's lyrical and poignant debut delves into complex family dynamics… [Moeng] brings insightful prose and a distinctive voice to these layered stories, demonstrating deep knowledge of her characters and care for their worlds. Moeng is a new force in the literary landscape.

Booklist
Moeng paints beautiful vignettes of modern Botswana, exposing readers to communities and traditions of her home country while exploring dichotomies and relational tensions familiar to all readers. Her beautiful, lyrical prose and memorable characters make this collection a delight to read.

Library Journal
[Moeng] writes with lush, heartfelt intensity that illuminates contemporary Botswana for readers who value complex female characters navigating a rapidly changing world.

Author Blurb Monica Ali, author of Brick Lane and Love Marriage
It's a terrific collection, deeply rooted in place, sharply observed, comic, fierce, with a fine sense of the tragedy and absurdity of life. I hope it attracts the wide readership it deserves.

Author Blurb Namwali Serpell, author of The Old Drift
Call and Response is a beautiful collection. What sharply observed vignettes—linked by striking figures, vivid details, a wry and ruminative mood, and deep insight into the vicissitudes of family life. They reminded me sometimes of the work of Anton Chekhov, sometimes that of Bessie Head: calm, wise, yet searching, restless, like a still pond bestirred by undercurrents, or in Moeng's lambent words, 'like a torchlight helpless over the vast velvet of night.'

Author Blurb Rumaan Alam, New York Times bestselling author of Leave The World Behind
A good short story is a bit of alchemy, showing us so much in so few pages. Gothataone Moeng's debut collection does this over and over, each story surprising with its music, its warmth, its command of language. Moeng writes of contemporary Africa, and if the settings and customs feel unfamiliar to Western readers, there's something universal and true in these tales that grapple with family, faith, and how we make our way in the world.

Author Blurb Souvankham Thammavongsa, author of How to Pronounce Knife
The debut of a major talent.

Author Blurb Yoon Choi, author of Skinship
The publication of Call and Response is cause for celebration. Big-hearted and clear-eyed in their evocation of her beloved Botswana, these radiant stories contain the stuff of life: joys and sorrows, the wisdom of generations, the ceremonies of the everyday. A gorgeous, vital work of literature.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

The Uphill Climb for Sub-Saharan African Girls' Education

Portrait photograph of tribal chief Theresa Kachindamoto, advocate for girls' education in Malawi In the short story "Dark Matter" from Gothataone Moeng's collection Call and Response, which takes place in Botswana, childhood friends Tumo and Nametso love swimming in the river and they love school. Daughters of teachers, they are inseparable until Tumo's mother is transferred. The girls meet up again at university in Gaborone. In her second year there, Nametso really needs a friend when she discovers she is pregnant.

Much of sub-Saharan Africa struggles with educating girls partly for reasons related to pregnancy. In "Dark Matter," Nametso becomes pregnant at the university level, has an abortion, and continues her education. Her (albeit fictional) experience is aspirational. While Botswana's economic development and investment in ...

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