Book Review: “The Silence of the Wilting Skin” by Tlotlo Tsamaas

The Silence of the Wilting Skin Book Cover shown on an iPad, coffee of the side

Some books present a world so vividly that you can’t stop thinking about it for months after you have read the book. The Silence of the Wilting Skin by Tlotlo Tsamaas is one of those books.  In this short novella, the author presents a lyrical and surreal story set in an unnamed African city where a train comes once a month connecting the living and the dead. As city developers threaten to destroy the train,  the narrator, a young woman and artist, struggles to know herself and to preserve her identity, family, and culture.   

Except the mirror does not reflect me. It shows a girl with ghost-skin. We don’t have such mirrors in our wards: mirrors which we can use to reflect our true selves. Our mirrors only reflect those native to The District on the Other Side of the City — never us. No one in our wards is able to procure them. The only time we ever become us is when we’re dead; when we’re dead do we become the still-Black font of the sky.

From “The Silence of the Wilting Skin” by Tlotlo Tsamaas

Although never named, it is easy to feel a deep connection to the narrator and to understand her. Her gorgeous writing and vivid imagery allow you to absorb her feelings of fear, anger love, hope, and extreme distress directly from the page – an experience I treasure as a reader. 

This is the author’s debut novella and I am hoping to see more from her in the future. 

Publisher:Pink Narcissus Press
Print Length75 pages

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