Ada's Room: A Novel (Hardcover)
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A kaleidoscopic novel spanning generations and continents, that reveals the connections between four women in their struggle for survival.
A woman in 15th century West Africa named Ada buries her child and confronts a Portuguese enslaver. A woman in Victorian England named Ada Lovelace, a mathematical genius and computer programming pioneer, tries to hide her affair with Charles Dickens from her husband. A woman named Ada, imprisoned in a concentration camp at Mittelbau-Dora in 1945, will survive one more day in enforced prostitution. Connected by an unknown but sentient spirit, and a bracelet of fertility beads that each Ada encounters at a pivotal moment in her life, these women share a name and a purpose.
As their interwoven narratives converge on a modern day Ada, a young Ghanaian woman who finds herself pregnant, alone, in Berlin, searching for a home before her baby arrives, their shared spirit will find a way to help her break the vicious cycle of injustice.
This novel is a feat of imagination and breaks down simplistic notions of history as a straight line; one woman’s experience matters to another’s 400 years later, on a different continent. In this deeply moving, at times mordantly funny, ultimately hopeful book, there is a connection between all those fighting for love, for family, for justice, for a home.
About the Author
Sharon Dodua Otoo is the winner of the Ingeborg Bachmann Prize and will be the Schroeder Writer-in-Residence at the University of Cambridge in 2022. She is active with the Initiative Schwarze Menschen and is affiliated with the Black queer feminist association ADEFRA. A writer and activist born in London, she lives in Berlin and writes in German. This is her first novel.
Jon Cho-Polizzi is an Assistant Professor of German at the University of Michigan, and a literary translator. He lives and works between Ann Arbor, Northern California, and Berlin.
Praise for Ada's Room
"Thrillingly, astonishingly original. You will not have read anything quite like this before." —R.O. Kwon, author of The Incendiaries
"[A] novel that demands a great deal emotionally and intellectually of the reader, but its boldness and ambition leave an indelible imprint. A rule-shattering novel about the presentness of the past." —Kirkus
“An impressive and highly original work, brimming over with energy.” – Times Literary Supplement
“Sharon Dodua Otoo is the new voice in German literature.... Her debut novel goes big.” —Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger
"Otoo is a singular voice in contemporary German literature.... [A] daring experiment, not unlike Yaa Gyasi’s debut novel, Homegoing." —Der Tagesspiegel
"By effortlessly moving between centuries in her novel, Sharon Dodua Otoo reveals not only the weight of history that comes to bear on a young Black woman in dire circumstances who is looking for a home – it also demonstrates which patterns have remained powerful to this day." —Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung