OVERRIDE

Nine Hills to Nambonkaha

Two Years in the Heart of an African Village

Sarah Erdman

Picador

In a northern part of the West African nation known as Côte d'Ivoire the savanna undulates and baobab trees rule over the horizon. Nambonkaha, village of Nabon (Stranger), has often been forgotten by the world. Sorcerers here still conjure magic. Electricity's arrival has been endlessly delayed. Sunrise brings the tok tok of women grinding corn with pestles. At times of dancing, young boys smack calabash drum so fast their bare hands blur.

Yet Nambonkaha, for all its innocence, is a little world on the cusp of enormous change—another spot where the modern issues facing all of Africa are beginning to disturb and disrupt. Sarah Erdman, a Peace Corps volunteer in the village for two years, shows us all the reasons we should care, drawing us into the lives of this funny, colorful, and haunting place. Beginning with the faithful but overworked village nurse and his sometimes cantankerous wife, we meet a gallery of village residents—salt sellers and seers, cotton farmers and vieilles, witch doctors and genies—and witness their way of life, death, celebration, and survival. We visit market day, where bejeweled tribeswomen snap up bargain bushrat and glitter for girls' faces. We observe a sacrifice to the ancestors, births complicated by sorcery, and an all-night wedding festival. We attend a graduation where children whose chores leave no time for schoolwork watch diplomas, and the opportunities they represent, pass them by. Erdman also shows us Nambonkaha's first AIDS loss and the beginning of the villagers' struggle to fight against the disease that could destroy their futures and the community that has sustained them. Beautifully written and observed, Nine Hills to Nambonkaha is filled with the grace, dreams, and spirit of this place and its beautiful, unforgettable people.

REVIEWS

Praise for Nine Hills to Nambonkaha

"Sarah Erdman's voice rings with a distinct and refreshing intimacy....This book is simply about people and their stories. In the joys and failures of daily routines in a small African village, she finds life itself."--Peter Hessler, author of Rivertown

"Exemplary...The writing has the narrative pulse of good fiction, and is as absorbing."--Norman Rush, author of Mortals

"Sarah Erdman has been blessed with these gifts: a fervent curiosity, a generous heart, a lightly self-mocking manner, and a fluent and poetic language...A vivid, at turns hilarious, at turns terrifying, important, and beautiful book."--Melissa Fay Greene, author of Praying for Sheetrock

"It is rare to be so completely transported to another land....[Erdman’s] powers of observation, her prose, and her daring are truly Orwellian."--Abraham Verghese, author of My Own Country

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Sarah Erdman

  • A graduate of Middlebury College, Sarah Erdman still works for the Peace Corps and lives in Washington, D.C. The child of parents who spent their entire careers in the Foreign Service, she lived in eight countries while growing up.
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Available Formats and Book Details

Nine Hills to Nambonkaha

Two Years in the Heart of an African Village

Sarah Erdman

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FROM THE PUBLISHER

Picador

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