Thursday 22 September 2022

Book Review: Why Do You Dance When You Walk? by Abdourahman A. Waberi (Literary Fiction)

Title: Why Do You Dance When You Walk?
Author: Abdourahman A. Waberi
Publisher: Cassava Republic
Publication Date: 8 November 2022
Pages: 128
Format: eBook - PDF
Genre: Literary Fiction
Source: ARC via NetGalley

One morning in Paris on the way to kindergarten, a little girl asks her father “Papa, why do you dance when you walk?” The question is innocent and serious. Why does her father limp, why can’t he ride a bicycle or a scooter? Her father feels compelled to answer, to bring back the memories of his childhood in Djibouti and tell her what happened to his leg. It was a place of sunlight and dust and sickness, a sickness that made him different, unique. They called him a skinflint and a runt, but he was the smartest kid in his school. Waberi remembers the shifting desert of Djibouti, the Red Sea, the shanty roofs of the houses in his neighborhood, an immense loneliness and some unforgettable characters: Papa-la-Tige who sold baubles to tourists, his tough, silent mother Zahra who trembled, and his grandmother nicknamed Cochise. He tells of the moment when his life changed forever and the ensuing struggle that made him a man, a man who knows the value of poetry, silence and freedom, a man who is still dancing.


Why Do You Dance When You Walk? was an interesting book for me on many levels, not least because, prior to reading, I knew nothing about Djibouti and nothing about the migration of Jews from Africa to Israel. The story was short but intense, the narration style engaging, and I definitely came to care about the characters and their journeys along the way. It certainly provided a lot of thought-provoking ideas that stuck with me after I had closed the final page. It gets four stars from me.

I received this book as a free eBook ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

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