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Waiting: A Novel of Uganda's Hidden War    by Goretti Kyomuhendo order for
by Goretti Kyomuhendo
Order:  USA  Can
Feminist Press at CUNY, 2007 (2007)

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* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Teenager Alinda and her family suffer during Idi Amin's reign of terror from 1972 to 1979. Though not witness to most of the fighting in their little corner of Uganda, they are affected by the shortages of almost everything humans need to exist jobs, food (except for what they can grow), education, medical care, proper shelter and the chance to live a good life, one they themselves were once able to manage.

Now, with barely enough to stay alive, they are inundated with Liberators who are chasing Amin's holdouts from their country. Alinda's mother is with child, and the family members for whom Alinda cooks are on the verge of starvation. Even with their own lack of food, they have taken in neighbors and even strangers who lost their homes in the reign of terror.

The general story is one we have all heard about in the media. But it is a different matter to read of the daily lives of people who are caught up in war, who through no fault of their own are destitute and live under the most primitive of conditions. Waiting is the gripping tale of Alinda and her family and how they cope with war raging around them. Waiting for the war to end so they can get back to life as they wish to live it. While the book is fiction, the tale it tells is real life.

Author Grotti Kyomuhendo is herself from Uganda. She was born in 1965 and grew up in Hoima. She holds an MA in creative writing from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa. The program coordinator of FEMRITE, she is one of the founders of the Ugandan Women's Writers' Association and publishing house. Waiting is her first book to be published in the United States. Her other novels, The First Daughter and Secrets No More, received awards in her country.

Her writing is very appealing. While making clear how conditions can be living in the middle of a war, her narrative and dialogue ring true. Waiting is a complex and disturbing story told with almost a touch of sweetness to it, through the eyes of a young girl forced to grow up before her time, accepting the vicissitudes of war because she really knows no other life. Her story is told simply and with a paucity of words which are powerful in their meaning. It's a story to read and on which to reflect when the last page is turned ... Whatever is achieved by war?

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