Tropical Fish by Doreen Baingana
Tales From Entebbe

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In her fiction debut, Doreen Baingana follows a Ugandan girl as she navigates the uncertain terrain of adolescence. Set mostly in pastoral Entebbe with stops in the cities Kampala and Los Angeles, Tropical Fish depicts the reality of life for Christine Mugisha and her family after Idi Amin’s dictatorship.

Three of the eight chapters are told from the point of view of Christine’s two older sisters, Patti, a born-again Christian who finds herself starving at her boarding school, and Rosa, a free spirit who tries to “magically” seduce one of her teachers. But the star of Tropical Fish is Christine, whom we accompany from her first wobbly steps in high heels, to her encounters with the first-world conveniences and alienation of America, to her return home to Uganda.

As the Mugishas cope with Uganda’s collapsing infrastructure, they also contend with the universal themes of family cohesion, sex and relationships, disease, betrayal, and spirituality. Anyone dipping into Baingana’s incandescent, widely acclaimed novel will enjoy their immersion in the world of this talented newcomer.

*Winner of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book in the Africa region
*Winner of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) Award Series in Short Fiction
*Winner of the Washington Writing Prize for Short Fiction
*Finalist for the Caine Prize in African Writing

About Doreen Baingana

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DOREEN BAINGANA received an M.F.A. from the University of Maryland and a law degree from Makerere University in Kampala. She lives in Rockville, Maryland.
Published September 12, 2006 by Broadway Books. 184 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction, Business & Economics, Law & Philosophy. Fiction

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By the pat, overdetermined end, she’s squeezed with her countrywomen into a bus, heading into “[t]he glaring sun.” “Lost in Los Angeles” finds Christine in that city, looking back on her Ugandan home through the rueful eyes of an emigrant taken in by shopping and California New Agey–ness.

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Publishers Weekly

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Baingana's characters are confined by a passivity and powerlessness (Christine likens herself to a plastic doll) rarely broken, though the collection ends on a hopeful note, as Christine rejoins her mother and sister Patti—Rosa has already died—thinking about how she "would have to learn all over...

May 01 2006 | Read Full Review of Tropical Fish: Tales From Ent...

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