Tropical Fish: Tales from Entebbe
by Doreen Baingana
Set mostly in pastoral Entebbe with stops in the cities Kampala and Los Angeles, the book follows a Ugandan girl as she navigates the uncertain terrain of adolescence. Tropical Fish depicts the reality of life for Christine Mugisha and her family after Idi Amin’s dictatorship. Three of the eight chapters are told from the point of view of Christine s two older sisters, Patti, a born-again Christian who finds herself starving at her boarding school, and Rosa, a free spirit who tries to magically seduce one of her teachers. But the star of Tropical Fish is Christine, whom we accompany from her first wobbly steps in high heels, to her encounters with the first-world conveniences and alienation of America, to her return home to Uganda.
As the Mugishas cope with Uganda’s collapsing infrastructure, they also contend with the universal themes of family cohesion, sex and relationships, disease, betrayal, and spirituality. Anyone dipping into Baingana s incandescent, widely acclaimed novel will enjoy their immersion in the world of this talented newcomer.
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Doreen Baingana is a Ugandan short story writer. Her book, Tropical Fish won the 2006 Commonwealth Writers' Prize, best first book, Africa, and an AWP Short Fiction Award. She has graduated from Makerere University with a JD, and from the University of Maryland with an MFA. While at Makerere University Baingana was an active member of FEMRITE - Uganda Women Writers Association, which she has referred to as "a literary home of sorts".
Her work has appeared in AGNI, Glimmer Train, African American Review, Callaloo, The Guardian, and Kwani. She currently resides in Uganda.