Patchwork by Ellen Banda-Aaku

Banda’s masterful first person narrative had me utterly invested in the scandalous life of the protagonist, Pumpkin. Pumpkin rouses a multitude of emotions in her often bizarre dealings with the people in her life. Her status as the daughter of a separated couple – a prominent businessman father and a poor alcoholic mother – exposes the classist system of Lusaka in the 1970’s. Despite its removal from Hong Kong in both space and time, the book brings to fore a topic we are all well acquainted with – the desire for love in humans in all its greyness and desperation.