Kalamazoo College graduate Morowa Yejidé read from her debut novel, “Time of the Locust,” on Tuesday, February 16 in the Arcus center.
“Time of the Locust” is the story of a silent autistic boy named Sephiri, his mother Brenda, and his father Horus. It tells of the struggles of Brenda while she raises Sephiri as a single mother because Horus is currently incarcerated. Yejidé disclosed that her book is “not for the faint of heart.”
Yejidé read parts of the book from all three of their points of view. First she read from Brenda’s, then Sephiri’s, and then Horus’s.
“Time of the Locust” was a 2012 finalist for the national PEN/Bellwether Prize. In 2015, it was longlisted for the PEN/Bingham Prize. It was also a 2015 nominee for the NCAAP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work.
Dr. Andy Mozina of the K English Department said, “It was amazing to me how the book kept its poise while describing very difficult or horrible life situations and also managed to end on a note of earned hope. The scenes in the Black Plains prison were particularly devastating and well-done.”
Many of the students in the audience had read the book at one time or another for classes here at K. Many students read the book through their first year seminar, Crossing Borders: Autism, and this quarter through African American Literature.
Haley Wentz K’18 said, “I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book, the usage of magical realism…and I also liked the idea Yejidé used by placing each of her main characters in a different sort of prison which, in turn, made it difficult for them to communicate. You always read the book a certain way and craft the way the characters sound to you, but hearing Morowa read it I immediately had a different sense, a better sense of how the book was written.”
Maryclare Columbo K’19, who has read the book twice for both of the classes, said, “I did not like the book too much the first time I read it solely because [I did not] understand the use of magical realism, but meeting the author and coming to understand her use to magical realism was really powerful and made me enjoy the book.”