Tale of Kasaya

It is now 12.34 p.m. About 10 minutes ago, I finished reading a book titled, “Tale of Kasaya”, by Eva Kasaya. It is a lovely book, simply written and well told, honestly and passionately. It is an interesting and captivating story, narrated without pretence. It does not claim any literary sophistication or elaborate wordplay nor does it paint a moral, only a desire to tell a story.

But underneath the simplicity of the story belies literary merit. The shifting back and forth of the narrative mode creates a literary tapestry unrecognisable to a casual reader. The beginning of the story mirrors other great literature, such as Tolstoy’s Anna Karenin, the kind of writing which plugs the reader right into the centre of action without dwelling on niceties and descriptions. The opening lines of the book are in fact what attracted me to the book the first time I glanced an advance copy at the Kwani? stand during the Nairobi book fair 2010.

The ending of the book is not the closing of the experiences but the beginning of other experiences. This is reflective of  modern writing which avoids ending the story as there is no end to experiences. Look at the sky – the universe itself has no end. Why then should experiences in life have an end?

The story does not preach. It simply narrates experiences of the author’s sense of morality and holds them up to us as mirrors of character building. This is reflective of the philosophy of social transformation. A character seeks to change oneself first before seeking to change others. This story makes one change the way you view and treat househelps. This simple story thus ascribes to the “Foucaultian maxim” which does not claim to present a coherent and timeless block of knowledge but rather, ‘a kind of tool-box which others can “rummage through to find a tool they can use however they wish in their own area.’ I enjoyed reading this book.

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