- “Angelface Nancy” is an aborted fairytale; Cinderella degenerated into a witchtale.
- The novel offers a brilliant literary presentation of the genesis of self-delusions and of emotional ups and downs in a socially impaired child.
- Put Manon Lescaut, Dorian Grey and Lolita in one single person and you will get less than half of Angelface Nancy.
- In an unparalleled manner this witchtale describes the secret life of African slums. It depicts, both with love and caustic humour, quite panoply of extraordinary characters who fight for survival by hook or by crook!
- If you want to learn how juju (African black magic) works, you’ll discover it in “Angelface Nancy”.
- The novel reveals the connection between the local power brokers and slave trade, juvenile prostitution and illegal immigration to Britain and the EU.
Already at the age of twelve Nancy discovers that faith, love and hope have been uprooted and replaced with hypocrisy, sex and money. Despite that, she is still a happy and playful child. Most of all she loves to read and to frolic about the beach with her band of tomboys. There are six of them: Nancy, the flighty Nayelle, the two biggest gossips in town, twin sisters Drava and Sava, the stolid, sober minded Alexandra and the unimaginative ugly duckling Pauline.
At the tender age of thirteen she has her first, rather unsavoury sexual experience. After a bitter quarrel with her guardian, Auntie Sally, Nancy leaves her house and moves into a charcoal shed to stay there together with her best friend Alexandra. Alexandra’s mother’s lover Charles, the local bully and thief, dotes on Nancy, identifying her in his mind, with his own daughter who disappeared together with her mother when she was only a newborn baby.
The bunch of tomboys are now over fifteen and their destinies ramify. Pauline, the only among them who has a father, lives a relatively normal life. Alexandra, in order to continue her schooling, finds herself an affluent but unattractive Indian sugar daddy. Nayelle becomes a gangster moll, Drava a petty trader, while her twin sister Sava makes attempts to write current gossip for ‘The Tattler‘. As for Nancy, she falls in love with Attah, a good looking footballer. He is her Prince Charming with whom, as she firmly believes, she will live in happiness forever.
Despite her belligerent and fiercely independent character, she craves to belong to a family and above all to have an affectionate father. In her imagination she promotes a retired British officer, a certain Mr. Mani to be her ‘father‘. Mani is a man of a different social status, of an arrogant, overcritical character, and originates from an entirely different cultural background. But he likes the girl and encourages her interests in learning. Being himself a failed father, Mani is as hungry for affection as Nancy is. Whatever he failed to do for his own daughter, he now offers to Nancy. As it was to be expected, Angelface Nancy gets entangled in an asymmetric love triangle. On the one side, there is her normal, teenage infatuation for Attah and on the other, a weird, mercenary (and almost incestuous) love for Mr. Mani. With Mani’s help and financial support, Nancy continues her schooling and, talented as she is, becomes the best student in a Vocational Training Centre. Unfortunately, tempted by her hunger for life, she soon discovers the ‘pleasure’ of associating with all sorts of dubious characters who show off their money.
Charles, the thief, who has persistently tried to advise her and protect her, gets killed during an unsuccessful heist. At the moment of his death he confesses to Mani that he really is Nancy’s father but that he concealed that from her because he did not want to expose her to the shame of being the daughter to a thief.
As she grows up, Nancy finds it more difficult to come to terms with reality. She either fights back or uses all her wits and imagination to change the inconvenient truth into something easier to digest.
At the age of seventeen, deluding herself that she is as tough as nails, Nancy takes a new sugar daddy. He is the raising political star, Freddie Ahriman-Setsikessa, an extremely rich, ugly upstart. In her fear that ‘Uncle’ Freddie may drop her, Nancy passes a scary black-magic ordeal. As the consequence she falls into permanent psychological bondage to Teza Koya, a mythological monster. She loses all her friends. Even her darling footballer Attah finds out about her double life and drives her away in a humiliating way. Deeply hurt by Attah’s conduct, Nancy kills the boy in her imagination and confesses the not-committed murder to Mani
In order to run away from her disappointments and deluding herself that money can buy her independence and happiness, she accepts the offer of a local pimp to travel to London. There, although underage, she works in sex-trade. Despite her acumen to create her own truth, the strain created by selling her body, finally breaks her down. She manages to pinch her passport from her pimp and flies back to Mildenport with a sizeable amount she had made in London.
The witchtale about Angelface Nancy comes to its end three months before Nancy’s eighteenth birthday. At the moment of her triumph, when she deludes herself how she had succeeded, a fake prophet cheats her out of all her London savings and brings her back to square one.
Excerpt from the text
The ceiling was floating, going up and down, provoking nausea. And all those intricate plaster ornaments were constantly out of focus and changing shapes. Vodka was much stronger than gin. Nancy had no doubts about that any more.
She was supine on the bed, naked and terribly bored. Her legs were splayed wide apart while she was prostrated upon all those so fragrantly clean bed-sheets. Down there, buried in her crotch, was Uncle Freddie’s cauliflower-head. His noisy sucking and laborious licking annoyed her. She badly wanted it over. Why hadn’t he climbed her and did whatever he wanted to do, so that she could now sleep in peace.
But neither Mr. Ahriman-Setsikessa was happy. The girl was impassive as a log. Her listless behaviour turned him off. No matter how much he tried, he could not achieve a satisfactory erection. Love’s labour lost! ‘We better sleep,’ Freddie decided. Crawling over the bed, he came up and stretched himself next to the girl. With the richly embroidered end of the bed-sheet he wiped the slimy moisture from his face. ‘Yes, we better sleep it off.’