Tara Kai Dar es Salaam: A Novel

ISBN 13: 9781882593798

Dar es Salaam: A Novel

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9781882593798: Dar es Salaam: A Novel
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This is the story of the emotional awakening of a perceptive and precocious 14-year-old English girl, Tatum, while on vacation with her family in Tanzania.

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Set against the "dirt and red-wine" color of East Africa, "Dar es Salaam" is the story of the emotional awakening of a perceptive and precocious fourteen-year-old English girl, Tatum, while on vacation with her family in Tanzania. Her story, both exotic and erotic, interweaves the heat and sensuousness of Africa into her own growing inner world--one of painful memories of divorce, abuse, and sexual fantasies.

In Tanzania's capital, Dar es Salaam, Tatum, the narrator of the novel, finds herself drawn to a forty-year-old, "saint-like" Indian man, Mohammed, called Mo, an old friend of her stepfather. The sense of wonder Tatum feels in Tanzania, and the heat, colors and lure of Africa, are beautifully evoked through the author's eye for poetic detail. And as Tatum's attraction to Mo evolves into desire, then obsession, then the resolute manipulation of the normally unflappable older man, the relationship and its emotions are vividly and skillfully rendered. Readers will find elements of the novel reminiscent of Nabokov's "Lolita" and Isak Dinesen's "Out of Africa."

"Tara Kai's voice is at once imaginative, stylish, funny, and honest. Her images of Africa come alive in dreamy detail through the eyes of the innocently sensual Tatum. And there's a sad edge to her vision. 'Dar es Salaam' is the frank work of an artistic new writer." --Sohrab Homi Fracis, author of "Ticket to Minto: Stories of India and America," winner of the Iowa Short Fiction Award

"'Dar es Salaam' is more than your typical coming-of-age novel. It is tender and erotic, set in the exotic environs of East Africa, where a young English girl's awakening is intensified by the allure of an enigmatic older man and the romantic pull of Africa itself. Tatum's journey from fanciful girl to knowledgeable woman is rendered with humor, pathos and a profound understanding of the mysteries and vicissitudes of the adolescent mind." --Susan Segal, author of "Aria"

"A superb novel. Besides the exotic details of Africa and the complicated development of characters, it has something not seen too often in our literature: a detailed study of the maturation of a female in our modern world. We have Cather, of course, and Jean Stafford's 'The Mountain Lion,' and the first half of 'The Poisonwood Bible,' but there hasn't been too much written about how children become young women. The beauty of this book is that it gives the reader insight into the fragmentation of the child's world of fantasy as Tatum begins to mature. She sees people in pieces--but suddenly she sees Mo, the object of her attraction, as a whole, and suddenly, for a moment, she's in the world of adult reality. Her pre-adolescent dreamworld, fortified by a vivid imagination, as well as movies, TV, and various magazines, is suddenly punctured. Tatum's thought processes are rich and complex, and in this evolution she comes to understand her mother as a person, as well as others around her. An extraordinary novel, a wonderful book which is long overdue." --Claude Campbell, author of "Abou and the Angel Cohen"

About the Author:

Tara Kai was educated in England and Germany, taught at a German university, spent time in Tanzania, and now teaches English literature at Florida International University. She lives in Miami. Her short stories have been published in U.S. and German anthologies.

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