Novelist JR Alila


Fiction

Sunset on Polygamy; The American Polygamist; The Thirteenth Widow; The Milayi Curse; The Wise One of Ramogiland; Sins of Our hearts; Whisper to My Aching Heart; Not on My Skin; The Choirmaster; The Luo Dreamers Odyssey (From the Sudan to American Power); Birthright (A Luo Tragedy); A Fishy Matter; Rebels

Poetry

Thirteen Curses on Mother Africa; Rateng’ and Bride

I am author Joseph R. Alila, a native of Kenya living in Schenectady, New York, from where I have penned thirteen novels and two epic poems. My poetry and verse address a variety of areas of the human experience, and you are welcome if you love writings that go beyond the mundane of daily life. I’m a chemist and teacher by training, and I for a while considered my writing as something recreational, something I did to pass time (as was the case in the lost scripts of the staged plays, THE FRUITLESS TREE and WHAT A HUSBAND, written in the 1980s). Thirteen novels and two poems later, learning the art of writing on my feet, the literary bug has bitten me, and friends and fans say that I’m a good novelist with strengths in the narrative and analytical forms and with a penchant for stinging dialogue. I laugh at such suggestions, but the readers may be right. Sages long gone were right in their observation that writing is like wine: an author’s output gets better with his or her age, where the wine in a bottle gets better with time in the cellar.

I started writing about what I knew well, and that was telling stories about life in a traditional Luo home, in which I grew up before I flew to national and then multinational diaspora destinations to pursue scholarly dreams. I have written extensively on my Luo people’s polygamous marriages and other cultural practices, criticizing them where criticism is due and shedding a sage’s light to put meaning to old traditions. My mournful caution against the practice of polygamy in the era of the AIDS virus came to light in SUNSET ON POLYGAMY and THE THIRTEENTH WIDOW.

My writings have tended to be anthropological–treating my subjects as actors or victims of their social, spiritual and physical environments and times. The novels, WHISPER TO MY ACHING HEART, SUNSET ON POLYGAMY, THE LUO DREAMERS’ ODYSSEY: FROM THE SUDAN TO AMERICAN POWER, NOT ON MY SKIN, BIRTHRIGHT (A LUO TRAGEDY), THE WISE ONE OF RAMOGILAND, MAYA, and lately A FISHY MATTER and REBELS are informative anthropological treatises on peoples and their physical, spiritual, political, cultural, and social circumstances.

I must admit that when I set out to write my earlier novels, for example SUNSET ON POLYGAMY, I had no voice or agenda. My objective was to tell stories about my Luo people and my experiences as a Christian, a Luo, an African, and a world scholar uprooted from his Luo home base to chase scientific dreams abroad. But fifteen novels and two Epic Poems (RATENG’ AND BRIDE and THIRTEEN CURSES ON MOTHER AFRICA) later, I find myself increasingly speaking for the burdened and voiceless peoples wherever they are in the world:

I speak for the African women and widows (in THE THIRTEENTH WIDOW, SUNSET ON POLYGAMY, THE MILAYI CURSE, WHISPER TO MY ACHING HEART, and REBELS) whose perilous yokes are the marital culture and practices whose original intentions were novel, and protective (as in WHISPER TO MY ACHING HEART, REBELS and THE MILAYI CURSE), but which cultural practices turned spiritual death traps, from which they have struggled to escape.

I have found a mournful political voice in two of my works: In RATENG’ AND BRIDE, I visit with and relive, in poetry, Kenya’s tragic 2007 Presidential contest, pointing at errors from which the nation hasn’t recovered). In the epic poem, THIRTEEN CURSES ON MOTHER AFRICA, I mourn increasingly dependent Africa, which has become an old shadow of its pre-colonial self. Africa is inundated with perilous crises, a lot of which are due to amnesia, nature, poor leadership choices, greed, dictatorships, and brother-on-brother conflicts, with Ebony (the African Woman) and her children bearing the brunt of the deadly forces.

In THE LUO DREAMERS’ ODYSSEY: FROM THE SUDAN TO AMERICAN POWER–a novel inspired by and about the Obama Presidency–I endeavor to make a tortuous historical-cum-spiritual fictional march of my Luo people from their slow fifteenth-century times in Old Sudan to East Africa, only for one of us to occupy the world’s only citadel of power. If some of my predictions came to pass, they must be taken as illustrations of what thoughtful fiction (science or literary or otherwise) can achieve.
Collectively, in the novels, THE WISE ONE OF RAMOGILAND, THE LUO DREAMERS’ ODYSSEY: FROM THE SUDAN TO AMERICAN POWER, and BIRTHRIGHT (A LUO TRAGEDY), I shed a sage’s torch, liberally illuminating various aspects of the Luo journey, Luo cultural practices, Luo spirituality, Luo politics, and Luo thought. No wonder, my literary breakthrough novel BIRTHRIGHT (A LUO TRAGEDY) has been a classroom text in African Anthropology and thought in universities.

Finally, the novels, NOT ON MY SKIN, THE AMERICAN POLYGAMIST, SINS OF OUR HEARTS, THE CHOIRMASTER (A SPIRITUAL TRAGEDY), and MAYA, I explore our day’s very dynamic American experience, consciousness, and attitudes at street level, inside houses of worship, and at the workplace, through the eyes of diaspora wanderer.

My readers are right, my literary journey no longer is recreational; like aged wine, it has come of age, to quote sages gone before us. Welcome, sample it, and however it tastes, let others know, and holler here on amazon.

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MAYA (A Novel)


Maya (Synopsis)

Harmony City suddenly is disharmonious, catching her administrators on unsure footings. Hard economic times have dumped the old and young into Main Street. Police officers have their hands full fighting members of the Occupy Harmony Movement (OHM)—an amorphous group funded by grumpy rich men, with scores to settle against Wall Street.
Amid the OHM-engineered chaos, Officer Depuy suddenly has a personal battle to fight: he is a witness in the killing of one Mike—a man with a dubious sex life—and his dog. Then history suddenly springs a surprise—a nosey police detective discovers a blood knot that tethers Officer Depuy to two dysfunctional wealthy people of interest in the murder, but who don’t even know that he is their son.
A runaway woman, Maya Boone, has watched Raul, her troublesome husband, kill Mike’s dog. When she crosses Eagle Street to spy on Mike’s intentions against Raul, she meets a heartbroken man. They mourn together, before her empathy quickly turns into intimacy and shared lust. But tragedy befalls Mike on his return home—he encounters an enraged boyfriend’s fatal arrow of passion.
Even as District Attorney Hess has two self-confessed killers behind bars, she still is advancing criminal motives against Maya, Raul, and Officer Jimmy Depuy—a child Maya gave away at birth. Maya and Raul run to Florida, where she intends to nurse her late-life pregnancy, of controversial origin, in private. She leaves a Judge Lit and attorneys debating the merits of a full murder trial.
In MAYA, the author weaves through a modern city’s cultural fabric, gently touching every social issue of the day, to present a narrative that is steps ahead of its time. Maya should appeal to readers who seek to understand in human character matters beyond the mundane of daily life.

The Choirmaster (Review)


The Choirmaster (A Spiritual Tragedy),

 By Joseph R. Alila

ISBN-13: 978144992798-1

This novel is not an easy spirit-lifting book to read. It is captivating if you’re attracted to the drama of human life; it may be repulsive if you already are wired to praise theology. The novel is full of imperfect tragic individuals in a church; that is why it’s a spiritual tragedy. Hard as it is to read, it teaches about leadership and how not to lead a people in search of a moral path; it is about human sin. Go ahead and read it; it could be about you and me—two imperfect people in an imperfect world.  You’ve issues with sin? So am I, and so does your pastor or priest. A church is a house of sinners who are full of some Hope in the Cross, but most of whom still falter along the winding path up the mount because they keep dragging their heavy earthly baggage along, believing that there is a place for material wealth and power in the journey. That is the tragedy. That is what The Choirmaster reveals.

 “The Choirmaster” addresses human folly and moral weaknesses—small errors that translate into corrupting moral rot when allowed to fester. This book is about the ways of the rich and powerful except the setting is a church in the idyllic enclave of Mud Valley, and the protagonists and antagonists are the church members.

The principal folly by the powerful church board—a body seeded by the rich and powerful of Mud Valley—is the belief that errors whitewashed and left uncorrected are a favor to the powerful sinner and the church whose images thus remain perfect.

Then there is the folly that the choirmaster is a man of God with superhuman musical talents; a moneymaker, and soul winner, whose services to the church at Mud Valley are indispensible. The church forgets that this larger than life individual is at the core a child. The choirmaster, the subject of every spinster’s wild imagination, becomes every mother-in-law’s imagination and soon he is every elder’s imagination. They forget that Michael the Choirmaster is a mere child who still needs molding, nurturing for good spiritual growth; a child who still needs to play among his youthful equals; who doesn’t need the elaborate dinner-settings every other day—all aimed at winning over to a particular spinster.

Add to the fact that Mud Valley was conceived on moral quicksand—a city with a history of sexual oddities; a city in which each family had to change its surname in attempts to break away from its sinful past, then we meet Mud Valley Church—a church unwilling to speak to any truth on any matter and dismisses any pastor who speaks to the rot in its sinful past. Mud Valley Church has wealth, yet it’s poor in all that matters for her mission to save souls—love and spiritual leadership.  In Mud Valley Church, a rich woman steals another woman’s husband and the pastor blesses the move and the church choir sings to the robber’s praise. No wonder, few pastors set their roots in Mud Valley Church.

But nothing is new in this book that humanity hasn’t seen: there are powerful women who’d put Eve of Eden to shame; these are women who get their ways whatever what. Mud Valley is a community in which the moral miscues we shrink at are laundered in public and partied over.

There are a few people with the guts to challenge their situation: There is Ezekiel, a fallen man who rises to the occasion when sin must be called sin, but he dies as a casualty of his past moral burdens; there is Eva the victim who refuses to keep quiet and shouts when Jane (a woman from the house of rich Caleb) robs her of her husband (the Choirmaster) and one Saul robs her of her decency. Talk of Pastor David, a man who has taken it upon himself to seek the truth, even if he has to study Mud Valley Genealogy to get there. Not all hope is lost in Mud Valley.

http://www.amazon.com/Joseph-R.-Alila/e/B002QD5TDM

Joseph R. Alila (Novelist, Poet)


I’m author Joseph R. Alila, a native of Kenya living in Schenectady, New York, from where I have penned twelve novels and two epic poems. You may not have read my poetry and verse that address a variety of areas of the human experience, but you are welcome if you love writings that go beyond the mundane of daily life. I’m a chemist and teacher by training, and I for a while considered my writing as something recreational, something I did to pass time. Fourteen publications later, learning the art of writing on my feet, the literary bug has bitten me, and friends and fans say that I’m a good novelist with particular strengths in the narrative and analytical forms and with a penchant for stinging dialogue. I laugh at such suggestions, but they may be right; it may be true that writing is like wine: the creator’s output gets better with his or her age, where the wine in a bottle gets better with time in the cellar.
I started writing from what I knew well, and that was telling stories about life in a traditional Luo home–in which I grew up before I flew to multiethnic, then multinational diaspora destinations. I’ve written extensively on my Luo people’s polygamous marriages and other cultural practices, criticizing them where criticism is due, and shedding a sage’s light in an effort to put meaning to old traditions. My mournful caution against the practice of polygamy in the era of the AIDS virus came to light in SUNSET ON POLYGAMY.
My writings have tended to be anthropological–treating my subjects as actors or victims of their environments and times. My novels, WHISPER TO MY ACHING HEART, SUNSET ON POLYGAMY, THE LUO DREAMERS’ ODYSSEY: FROM THE SUDAN TO AMERICAN POWER, NOT ON MY SKIN, MAYA, BIRTHRIGHT (A LUO TRAGEDY), THE WISE ONE OF RAMOGILAND, and lately MAYA are informative anthropological treatises on peoples and their physical, spiritual, political, cultural, and social circumstances.
I must admit that when I set out to write my earlier novels, for example SUNSET ON POLYGAMY, I had no voice or agenda. My objective was to tell stories about my Luo people and my experiences as a Christian, a Luo, an African, and a world scholar uprooted from his home base to chase scientific dreams abroad. But fourteen novels and two Epic Poems (RATENG’ AND BRIDE and THIRTEEN CURSES ON MOTHER AFRICA) later, I find himself increasingly speaking for the burdened and voiceless peoples wherever they are in the world: I speak for the African women and widows (in THE THIRTEENTH WIDOW, SUNSET ON POLYGAMY, and WHISPER TO MY ACHING HEART) whose perilous yokes are the marital culture and practices whose original intentions were protective, but which cultural practices now have turned spiritual death traps, from which there is no escape.
I’ve found a mournful political voice in two of my works: In RATENG’ AND BRIDE, I visit with and relive, in poetry, Kenya’s tragic 2007 Presidential contest, pointing at errors from which the nation hasn’t recovered). In the epic poem, THIRTEEN CURSES ON MOTHER AFRICA, my message is that increasingly dependent Africa is an old shadow of its pre-colonial self; Africa is inundated with perilous crises, a lot of which are due to amnesia, nature, poor leadership choices, greed, dictatorships, and brother-on-brother conflicts, with Ebony the African Woman and her children bearing the brunt of the deadly forces.
In THE LUO DREAMERS’ ODYSSEY: FROM THE SUDAN TO AMERICAN POWER–a novel inspired by and about the Obama Presidency–I endeavor to make a tortuous historical-cum-spiritual fictional march of my Luo people from their slow fifteenth-century times in Old Sudan to East Africa, only for one of us to occupy the world’s only citadel of power. If some of my predictions about the current American Presidency seem to have come to pass, they have to be taken as illustrations of what thoughtful fiction (science or otherwise) can achieve.
Collectively, in the novels, THE WISE ONE OF RAMOGILAND, THE LUO DREAMERS’ ODYSSEY: FROM THE SUDAN TO AMERICAN POWER, and BIRTHRIGHT (A LUO TRAGEDY), I shed a sage’s torch, liberally illuminating various aspects of the Luo journey, Luo cultural practices, Luo spirituality, and Luo thought. No wonder, my literary breakthrough novel BIRTHRIGHT (A LUO TRAGEDY) has been a classroom text in African Anthropology at an American University.
Finally, the novels, NOT ON MY SKIN, THE AMERICAN POLYGAMIST, SINS OF OUR HEARTS, THE CHOIRMASTER (A SPIRITUAL TRAGEDY), and MAYA, I explore our day’s very dynamic American experience, consciousness, and attitudes at street level, inside houses of worship, and at the work place.
My readers could be right, my literary journey no longer is recreational; like aged wine, it has come of age. Welcome, sample it, and however it tastes, let others know, and holler here on Amazon.com.

 http://www.amazon.com/Joseph-R.-Alila/e/B002QD5TDM

THE CHOIRMASTER (A Novel)


If you are a young man looking for a woman to marry, don’t be like rubbery Michael the choirmaster; if you are a married young woman don’t be like Eva, the woman who decided to sit out all of her husband’s evangelistic activities; if you are a single woman and another woman beat you to a man’s heart, forget it and move on, don’t be like that girl who wrecked a fellow church member’s marriage; if you are a man, don’t be like Saul the soul-killer, and definitely don’t be like his wife–the woman whose cellphone never stopping buzzing the events in her neighbors’ lives; if you are a minister, stop kidding, there are certain weddings you can refuse to bless! If you are a church elder, you are the “deacon” of the faithful: your word is gold, don’t waste it!
The novel THE CHOIRMASTER is not about music, it is about life, read it and live well. http://www.amazon.com/Joseph-R.-Alila/e/B002QD5TDM

SINS OF OUR HEARTS (A Novel)


A young Pastor, Rew Smith, leads the affluent Oakpound New Hope Church. Things appear well in Pastor Smith’s Church, but underneath the glitter of its architecture and human faces, it has a deep spiritual problem. Simply put, the church suffers from a shortage of love. New converts are called names and go unattended to as the young Pastor spends most of his evenings at Oakpound Big Boys Health and Fitness Club. Elders in his Lay Leadership bask in self-praise, and exude a form of spirituality that has no force of love behind it. Led by Mrs. Smith, some members of the Women Wing have introduced a controversial Foot-Washing method for its convenience, but in which the virtues of humility and selfless love are virtually dead. Oakpound New Hope Church, is crying for Divine intervention, and it is about to get it.

SINS OF OUR HEARTS (a novel)
JR Alila (Author)

http://www.amazon.com/Joseph-R.-Alila/e/B002QD5TDM