Strange and Difficult Times
Notes on a Global Pandemic
One of Brittle Paper’s ‘Anticipated African Books of 2023’
A devastating critique of global inequities and prejudices exposed by Covid-19, and a vivid first-hand account of Africa’s pandemic.
One of African Arguments‘s Best African Books of 2022
In this new collection, Nanjala Nyabola takes stock of a world in crisis. Her incisive yet moving prose unpacks the injustices shaping Covid’s starkly different outcomes between countries and communities, and reveals rich societies’ shockingly inaccurate view of how her home continent has fared. From the hidden truth of fast action, mutual aid and transnational cooperation in poorer countries to the widespread falsehoods of Western commentary, Nyabola exposes a global society scarred by colonial legacies, lazy narratives and ingrained biases.
These essays are an inventory of the staggering political and social failures of our time, and the myths exposed in Covid’s wake. Watching coronavirus spread in Kenya and around the world, Nyabola reflects on a long history of onlookers denying the Global South’s agency and successes in times of emergency. Armed with her insider-outsider perspective, she reveals harsh truths about our broken system, and calls powerfully for a sincerely shared post-pandemic world—one where voices like hers can help to write a real global history.
‘An important body of work that highlights unforgivable injustices and the courageous systems and voices trying to counter them.’ — African Arguments
‘A rapier-like voice in the wilderness of our uncertainties; eloquent and thorough. Beautifully delivered.’ — Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor, author of Dust and The Dragonfly Sea
‘A disturbing indictment of the racialised injustices and profiteering inequity laid bare by Covid-19, and a stirring paean to the vital necessity of solidarity and sharing.’ — Priyamvada Gopal, author of Insurgent Empire
‘More than telling our story properly, Nyabola tells our story powerfully, beautifully, singularly. Her gift for connecting the dots across time and space, between people and places, is peerless. We are all richer for her voice in the world.’ — Panashe Chigumadzi, author of These Bones Will Rise Again
‘A thoughtful and powerful African perspective on Covid, reflecting on the unequal world in which we all live.’ — Hakim Adi, author of Pan-Africanism: A History
‘Nyabola is one of the most gifted, courageous, purpose-driven storytellers of our time. Rejecting the broken status quo and imagining a future of greater peace, she urges us to embrace the power of art to expose injustices and find solutions. A gift of a book.’ — Kumi Naidoo, human rights and environmental campaigner
‘That rare voice who can bring insights from the Global South to bear upon the ironies and aspirations of our shared humanity, in a time of global pandemic.’ — Seyla Benhabib, political philosopher and author of Politics in Dark Times
Nanjala Nyabola is a writer and political analyst based in Nairobi, Kenya. Her work focuses on structural injustice, the intersection between technology and politics, and migration and human mobility. Her previous collection Travelling While Black, also published by Hurst, was shortlisted for the Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year.