Call and Response: Stories (Hardcover)

Call and Response: Stories By Gothataone Moeng Cover Image

Call and Response: Stories (Hardcover)


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Richly drawn stories about the lives of ordinary families in contemporary Botswana as they navigate relationships, tradition and caretaking in a rapidly changing world.

A young widow adheres to the expectations of wearing mourning clothes for nearly a year, though she's unsure what the traditions mean or whether she is ready to meet the world without their protection. An older sister returns home from a confusing time in America, only to explain at every turn why she’s left the land of opportunity. A younger sister hides her sexual exploits from her family, while her older brother openly flaunts his infidelity.

The stories collected in Call and Response are strongly anchored in place - in the village of Serowe, where the author is from, and in Gaborone, the capital city of Botswana – charting the emotional journeys of women seeking love and opportunity beyond the barriers of custom and circumstance.

Gothataone Moeng is part of a new generation of writers coming out of Africa whose voices are ready to explode onto the literary scene. In the tradition of writers like Chimamanda Adiche and Jhumpa Lahiri, she offers us insight into communities, experiences and landscapes through stories that are cinematic in their sweep, with unforgettable female protagonists.
Gothataone Moeng was born in Serowe, Botswana. She was a Wallace Stegner Fellow in fiction, a Summer Workshop scholar at Tin House, and an Emerging Writer Fellow at A Public Space. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in American Short Fiction, One Story, Virginia Quarterly Review, A Public Space, Ploughshares, and Oxford American. She holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Mississippi. She is currently at work on a novel.
Product Details ISBN: 9780593490983
ISBN-10: 0593490983
Publisher: Viking
Publication Date: February 7th, 2023
Pages: 304
Language: English
Praise for Call and Response

"All these stories reveal how women, family, and community intersect—each written with compassion and a deft hand.”
—Oprah Daily

"A good short story is a bit of alchemy, showing us so much in so few pages. Gothataone Moeng’s debut collection does this over and over, each story surprising with its music, its warmth, its command of language. Moeng writes of contemporary Africa, and if the settings and customs feel unfamiliar to Western readers, there’s something universal and true in these tales that grapple with family, faith, and how we make our way in the world." 
—Rumaan Alam, New York Times bestselling author of Leave The World Behind

"Call and Response is a beautiful collection. What sharply observed vignettes—linked by striking figures, vivid details, a wry and ruminative mood, and deep insight into the vicissitudes of family life. They reminded me sometimes of the work of Anton Chekhov, sometimes that of Bessie Head: calm, wise, yet searching, restless, like a still pond bestirred by undercurrents, or in Moeng's lambent words, 'like a torchlight helpless over the vast velvet of night.'" 
Namwali Serpell, author of The Old Drift

"The debut of a major talent."
—Souvankham Thammavongsa, author of How to Pronounce Knife

"The publication of Call and Response is cause for celebration. Big-hearted and clear-eyed in their evocation of her beloved Botswana, these radiant stories contain the stuff of life: joys and sorrows, the wisdom of generations, the ceremonies of the everyday. A gorgeous, vital work of literature."
Yoon Choi, author of Skinship

"It’s a terrific collection, deeply rooted in place, sharply observed, comic, fierce, with a fine sense of the tragedy and absurdity of life. I hope it attracts the wide readership it deserves."
Monica Ali, author of Brick Lane and Love Marriage

"Call and Response is a necessary exploration of womanhood in the context of the countervailing forces of traditional values and modern norms. Moeng’s stories are rich, compassionate and compelling and sing about Botswana’s women in lyrical, evocative prose. This collection was a joy to read."
Cherie Jones, author of How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House

“In Gothataone Moeng’s precise, delightfully detailed collection, Call and Response: Stories, we witness the challenges women of all ages face in a modernizing postcolonial Botswana where elements from the old life still remain…Though the stories are unlinked, all of these women and their separate complexities feel intricately connected…Bolstered by her stirring prose, Moeng’s stories pulsate with life and accumulate to build a full, rich world.”
—The New York Times

"In a debut collection set in Botswana, a young widow, reluctant to discard her mourning clothes, expresses wonder at the outside world that continues despite her husband’s death a year prior. In another, a university student discovers her brother's affair, shattering her perception of him and their adopted city. But all these stories reveal how women, family, and community intersect—each written with compassion and a deft hand."
—Oprah Daily

"A lovely debut brimming with deeply felt and well-rounded stories."
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Botswanan writer Moeng’s lyrical and poignant debut delves into complex family dynamics…  [Moeng] brings insightful prose and a distinctive voice to these layered stories, demonstrating deep knowledge of her characters and care for their worlds. Moeng is a new force in the literary landscape." 
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Moeng paints beautiful vignettes of modern Botswana, exposing readers to communities and traditions of her home country while exploring dichotomies and relational tensions familiar to all readers. Her beautiful, lyrical prose and memorable characters make this collection a delight to read."

"[Moeng] writes with lush, heartfelt intensity that illuminates contemporary Botswana for readers who value complex female characters navigating a rapidly changing world."
—Library Journal

"These brilliant stories are set in modern Botswana, but delve into age-old longings.
Moeng unfurls the luminous inner life of her characters (girls and women for the most part) as they go about their ordinary days, hearts and heads brimful of new wants and desires, but keenly aware of old traditions and family expectations."
—Daily Mail

"In Moeng's nine stories, so exceptionally written that sentences can shine and awe, the push-pull of the modern and traditional is a recurring theme, and her characters, mostly younger women, are caught in that psychologically turbulent, unforgiving space, their private and public lives splintered and feelings left raw…masterful."
—Star Tribune

"There’s something about the short story form that welcomes a celebration of mundanity and the everyday. These stories, set in Botswana, follow characters going about their lives: they fall in and out of love, navigate hookups, get into arguments with their spouses, and ponder how to take care of aging family members. The collection as a whole is quiet and deeply steeped in place. Most of the stories aren’t centered on major life-changing events, but instead illuminate the ins and outs of daily life."
—Book Riot

"These nine unhurried, fully realized tales may brim with their protagonists’ yearnings, familial rivalries, regrets and disappointments, but reading them is pure pleasure… Completely unforced and fascinating. Rich, thronging with life, Call and Response is a collection to be treasured."
—New Internationalist

“Although Moeng is young, her prose is mature – spare and subtle, with both universal and local appeal. Beautifully crafted, they somehow echo US author Elizabeth Strout’s stories. They pull the reader, seemingly effortlessly, into the intimacy of a character, focusing on details and everyday life which open onto wider issues.”
—The Africa Report

"These mouth-wateringly sensory, satisfyingly complex stories, set in rural and urban Botswana…. Not the glance or sharp epiphany in these stories but the long kiss, with the heart as totem, questions in their wake."
—Irish Times