In the End It Was All About Love
“To read Musa Okwonga’s short semi autobiographical novel is to be plunged into the narrator’s internal world as he grapples with his heritage, grief, race, love, loneliness and external perceptions of ‘success’ while carving out a path through his newfound home of Berlin. The second person narration creates an immersive reading experience and Okwonga’s sheer emotional articulacy makes the narrator’s vulnerability heartbreaking at times.
Through all this he weaves a real sense of place, those who know Berlin will recognise its idiosyncrasies described perfectly e.g. ‘an adolescent surging through mood swings’ but also the serendipitous moments of joy that the city unexpectedly bestows on him.
As Okwonga lays bare the daily anxiety internalised by a black man living in a predominantly white European city alongside a yearning for belonging as he approaches 40, his unwavering dedication to emotional truth will leave you finishing the final pages with your heart wide open. A must.”
The narrator arrives in Berlin, a place famed for its hedonism, to find peace and maybe love; only to discover that the problems which have long haunted him have arrived there too, and are more present than ever. As he approaches his fortieth birthday, nearing the age where his father was killed in a brutal revolution, he drifts through this endlessly addictive and sometimes mystical city, through its slow days and bottomless nights, wondering whether he will ever escape the damage left by his father’s death. With the world as a whole more uncertain, as both the far-right and global temperatures rise at frightening speed, he finds himself fighting a fierce inner battle against his turbulent past, for a future free of his fear of failure, of persecution, and of intimacy.
In The End, It Was All About Love is a journey of loss and self-acceptance that takes its nameless narrator all the way through bustling Berlin to his roots, a quiet village on the Uganda-Sudan border. It is a bracingly honest story of love, sexuality and spirituality, of racism, dating, and alienation; of fleeing the greatest possible pain, and of the hopeful road home.
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