Editor's Review

All the main characters are women who are certainly unapologetic for their actions.

By Faith Oneya

Avoid Sarah Haluwa's 'Sinners' if you shy away from provocative content or possess a delicate sensibility. As the title suggests, the stories straddle the line between sexual pleasure and morality, which are two topics that are not accustomed to coexistence. 

In a society where discussions about sex and female sexuality are often hushed, even stigmatized, the author fearlessly delves into the taboo. As a feminist, discovering a local author unapologetically exploring this subject was a delightful surprise. 

In Ms Haluwa's world, her female characters defy shame, rendering the label "Sinners" almost a mockery of anyone daring to judge their actions. There are many potential critics of the book, given the taboo topic it tackles, but there’s no room for that when reading the book.

All the main characters are women who are certainly unapologetic for their actions. The book unfolds as an extravagant celebration of women's sexual pleasure, presented in various shapes and forms. Some escapades disappoint the characters (not the readers), while others induce laughter from the readers, yet each sexual adventure remains as provocative as the next. 

File Image of the copy of the book Sinners. 

The author adeptly tackles the gendered aspect of sexual performance, highlighting the burden often placed on men. A poignant example arises in the character Nancy, who expresses relief in being a woman, free from concerns about performance anxiety and erectile dysfunction.

The book's blurb tantalizingly invites readers to 'peek into the secret sinful lives of Nairobi women - how they explore their desires in a world too often disdainful of the female experience...', providing a forewarning of the explicit nature of the stories. A point to note is that although the author says “peek,” she actually means 'be immersed' in the experience.

As much as the stories are fictional, they feel familiar, like most women’s experiences that we read about on social media. Housewives, socialites, and commercial sex workers, diverse in their backgrounds, find common ground in their pursuit of sexual thrills.  

Crafted in Kenyanese, a distinctive blend of English with a Kenyan flavor, the stories unfold effortlessly in a conversational style.

The author skillfully lays bare each morsel of the women's sexual experiences, offering readers a naked view of what it truly means for women to be sexually liberated. The graphic nature of the writing may be unpalatable for some readers, and that's perfectly acceptable. However, it doesn't alter the fact that the depicted scenarios mirror the daily occurrences in Nairobi. In the end, "Sinners" masterfully demonstrates how art imitates reality.

The Sinners book by Sarah Haluwa was published in 2023. 

Ms Faith Oneya is a journalist with over ten years of experience and comments on social and gender topics.