Dust, Spittle & Wind

the following is a review of Dust, Spittle & Wind a book by Sanya Osha


The pleasure of making love to a covered, devout-looking woman.

The pleasure of a refrigerated soda pop and a hot bath after a long day in desiccated terrain.

The pleasure of roast lamb on an empty stomach.

Sanya Osha’s latest effort, Dust, Spittle & Wind, a novel of pleasure embedded in suffering, cements him as a novelist whose concern is above all the human hunger for self-actualization, a hunger, in his cruel universe of poverty, corruption, and violent expression, that can only be teased, never sated.  When his omnisciently jaded narrator states, “Clichés have many techniques of winning the day,” he is telling us what his protagonist Olu Ray is up against:  a society bitterly constructed of commonplaces that work overtime to rob a young man of the opportunity to write his own story, to drain the spice from his life, leaving him a few shreds of masturbatory fantasies, a few scraps of pleasure from beneath the table of his social betters, a coterie of pot-bellied hypocrites who’ve internalized their own Islamic version of the Madonna-whore dialectic so thoroughly that they’ll beat a wife who so much as chats with a neighbor, murder a rival for a mistress’ carnal favors.

Yet for all the page-turningly gripping plot events, it is Mr. Osha’s tone upon which the novel hangs, shining like a disco ball in a darkened nightclub.  In his hands, the English language oozes something sticky, at once disgusting and seductive.  His narrator tosses about such images as “dancehall blood”, “shit-eating maniacs”, and  “dirty slaps”, all in a poetic trance that manages to convey an unexpected and taunting fragile beauty.  In these pages exists, perhaps, world literature’s most relentlessly frequent descriptions of the mind-robbing effects of a woman’s physical attributes.  “He was dangling from the face of a steep cliff with his dick.  He knew he was toying with death.”  Again, the clichés come to slap us the face and remind us that they’ve been lurking around forever and always will.  Sex and death—two things to look forward to in the endless repetition of stupid bosses, rotten governance, broken hearts.

Fiction that tunnels into the crevices between religious fundamentalism and consumer capitalist cynicism, Dust, Spittle & Wind asserts the right of every human being to achieve happiness, or at least die trying.


a book review by Hillary Raphael

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