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LA BASTARDA by Trifonia Melibea Obono
Translated by Lawrence Schimel
The smouldering embers of colonialism crackle and hiss in this remarkable story of one girl’s escape from the confines of tradition. At seventeen, Okomo is a disappointment to her family, her tribe. She should be married. She should be providing for her family. She should accept the role bestowed on her by fate: a lowly bastard, the daughter of an absent scoundrel and a mother who died giving birth to her. Treated like dirt by her grandfather and his two feuding wives, Okomo’s only ally is her “man-woman” uncle, Marcelo, himself chased out of the village for being gay. A chance meeting with three of Marcelo’s outcast friends leads to an unexpected sexual awakening, opening Okomo’s eyes to the possibilities beyond her Fang upbringing.
The first work of fiction from Equatorial Guinea to be translated into English, La Bastarda is one hell of a reckoning; with power, with sexuality, with tradition, but also with the country’s future. In Okomo and her friends, Trifonia Melibea Obomo has given voice to the marginalised and dispossessed. Their sweetness and humour belies a heart that rages against deeply entrenched systemic injustices. No doubt I’ll be thinking of them for a long time to come.
La Bastarda by Trifonia Melibea Obono (Tr. Lawrence Schimel)
Feminist Press, 2018