Where We Once Belonged – Sia Figel

wheer we once belongedREAD FOR BOOKCLUB

Chosen by Suzy

This Commonwealth Prize winner is the coming-of-age story of 13-year-old Alofa Filiga in a Samoan village

✔ “Where We Once Belonged is written in the traditional Su’ifefiloi style. Literally this means a woven garland of flowers. As a narrative technique, it refers to the stringing together of individual stories or fragments, told in different styles. In Where We Once Belonged anecdotes and poetry follow one another without regard to order or continuity, producing a slowly revealed plot.

“The story reveals the coming of age of 13 year old Alofa and the traditional and sometimes brutal upbringing she endures as she finds her place in the world as a Polynesian and a woman.”

✔ “Oooh spooky, when I started typing this up Sia’s Chandelier came up on Spotify.  Moving on …  Nice to read a book about young Samoan females set in Samoa by a Samoan author.  A series of interlinked stories that I felt I happily floated amongst.” – Suzy

✔ “This book is engrossing right from the first page with its merging of poetry, prose and mythology.  Alofa is well written, and it is heartbreaking to read about the difficulties she endures in her regulated childhood.” – Rachel

✔ “This story involves domestic violence and cultural repression of sexuality in a coming of age story set in a Samoan village. The themes of racial and sexual discrimination are disturbing at times. I enjoyed the way the Samoan language peppers this book, however this was sometimes frustrating as not all words/phrases were included in the glossary translation.  A good read.” – Jo

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Published 1996
248 pages

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