Princess Nyilaak is an epic story of a unique Luo princess born and brought up against all odds as heir to the throne of her father, – Ruoth Kwanga. The essential patriarchal society does not know how to raise a woman into a leadership position, even though the ancestors command that they do so. So they try their best to turn her into a man – through some hilarious and sometimes really sad episodes.
Princess Nyilaak is a well researched story, rich in traditional Luo customs, taboos, rituals, norms and general way of life; right from birth of a child to the death and burial of important figures in society. The novel also explores the role of women as sisters, as mothers, as daughters, grand-daughters, mothers-in-law, grandmothers, and as widows in a society where the boy child is the key to a family’s genealogy with the girl child as problematic equation – to be married off as quickly as possible into another family.
The deep bond and symbiotic relationships that the people have with their gods and ancestors that intercede for them – symbolized by the presence of the sun in their daily lives, is clearly brought out through entertaining plotting.
Intrigues in the management of political leadership transitions are well illustrated through characters that come alive in the text, and through literary stylistic devices. These include but are not limited to vivid descriptions, proverbs, similes, metaphors, imagery, irony and biting satire. It is a must read for literature students and instructors, gender activists, anthropologists, political scientists, sociologists, historians, and the general reader.
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