The University of Wisconsin Press

Autobiographical Fiction / Africa / Lesbian Interest


Where Bones Dance
An English Girlhood, An African War
Nina Newington

"Newington's prose is gorgeous-beautiful, difficult, painful, and lyric. It's poetry all the time."–Judith Katz, author of The Escape Artist

In this stunning debut novel, a child dissects the darkness at the heart of her British diplomatic family. Living in Nigeria on the brink of civil war, Anna–also known as Jake–becomes blood brothers with Dave, the Korean American daughter of a C.I.A. operative. They do push-ups, collect pornography, and plot lives of unmarried freedom while around them a country disintegrates. Luscious, terrifying, and raw, Nigeria itself becomes a lesson in endurance, suffering, love.

Stories are layered upon stories: Anna's grandmother tells stories about life as a white woman on the Gold Coast; the clairvoyant and closeted "Aunt" Elsie gives Anna a story of transformation to hold onto in the coming tumult of adolescence.Yet Where Bones Dance also spirals down to the stories that are not told–sexual abuse, the myth of benign colonialism, the chaos of postcolonial Africa. Sensual and fantastical by turns, this moving, funny, immensely readable book delivers an understanding of the interplay of sexuality, gender, race, and war that is sophisticated beyond the years of its intrepid narrator.

"I wish Dad would come home. I send him a thought in the air. To Biafra. He's flying in a plane with Prince Richard. It is dark except for the green light of the instrument panel. They are sitting close together in the little airplane. Prince Richard is steering. It is too dark to see except when a gun fires and then the ground is covered in dead bodies and the animals are taking legs and arms away in the bush to eat and the animals' eyes are green and shining."–excerpt from Where Bones Dance

Nina Newington was born in Hong Kong and as a child lived in Germany, Israel, Nigeria, and Britain. Her work has appeared in journals and anthologies, including New Writings by Women: Sinister Wisdom and The American Voice. She lives in the hills of western Massachusetts.

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Of Related Interest
Nowhere in Africa
An Autobiographical Novel
Stefanie Zweig, translated by Marlies Comjean

Somewhere in Germany
An Autobiographical Novel
Stefanie Zweig, translated by Marlies Comjean

the cover of Where Bones Dance is a dark photo of a small girl in an African Jungle. Title is on a blood-red bar, overhead looms a geopolitical map of Africa.

April 2007

LC: 2006031769 PR
248 pp.  6 x 9

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Cloth $26.95 t
ISBN 978-0-299-22260-4
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