Call and Response: Stories

Books on Tape. Feb. 2023. 9:31 hrs. ISBN 9780593629031. $76. F
Botswanan author and Wallace Stegner fellow Moeng’s rich debut features nine short stories set in the author’s hometown of Serowe and the capital city of Gaborone, where narrator Warona Setshwaelo was born. Most of the stories center on women and girls in various stages of life, though the longest story, “Early Life and Education,” follows a boy from his childhood through his coming-of-age. This story provides context to better understand how some men in the rest of the collection behave. Female friendships, familial relationships, and custom vs. modernity play prominently in each story. Several entries highlight people looking back on their younger selves with wisdom and experience. Although narrator Setshwaelo is new to audiobook narration, her outstanding performance brings out Moeng’s lyrical prose and the vibrancy and depth of her characters. This collection is best experienced in audio, as Setshwaelo’s knowledge of Setswana allows for an immersive and authentic experience of the language.
VERDICT An essential addition to any collection where short stories from around the world are in demand. For lovers of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Lisa Cupolo, and Mai Nardone.
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