The story’s most touching moments are about compassion and are never oversold – they are just part of the story. At the end, K offers to look after his sick father, a proposition made when he is himself in dire psychiatric straits with many a bitter pill to swallow. The sense is of suffering making room for empathic insight. This book is brave and moving; and if it is unevenly written, that is unsurprising given the roughness of the road. But at his best, Owusu writes with an enlightening fluency – especially about mental health.
The title of Owusu’s first work of fiction conjures up ideas of the derivative or allusive – “that reminds me …”. In fact, in the sensitivity of its approach and its impressionistic quality, it is a singular achievement. Many may find its subject matter unremittingly bleak. Some readers will question the efficacy of the framing device, the statements delivered to an impassive Anansi. Others might find some of the lyricism and stylistic innovations distracting rather than illuminating. But there is a palpable charge and welcome freshness to the voice here that is undeniable.