Sarah Ladipo Manyika reading from her novel Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun


‘Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun’. Beautiful flower for a beautiful woman. You know, I have to say that because I forget
the woman’s name and that is embarrassing because she always knows my name and she even
speaks a little bit of my language. But to tell you the truth, you know, once
upon a time this woman must have been so stunning. Such a tall woman with a fine ass, even now. And my name is Dawud, not Donald. This woman was probably even stylish, once
upon a time, although now at her age, maybe not. Amira, she says the woman is just eccentric,
but that’s my sister being kind. Amira never says a bad word about anybody,
which is why I must be the one to look after the family’s business, and this is a headache,
with the shop being so close to the Haight-Ashbury, with all the hippies and the pot-smoking homeless,
you know? But I’m not that stupid, you don’t take a
man like me, uprooted from Yafa and forced to walk with my family across the desert and
expect me to know nothing. No, you cannot fool a man like me, I know
what people are like, which is why my sister, she ought to listen when I tell her that a
chain of felafel stores is what we should be doing. Listen, I know these things, I sense them. We could make it here in San Francisco just
like the French restaurant in the Russian Hill, the Mexican restaurant in the Mission
or the Italian ones all over the place. Why not Palestinian? We could call it ‘Yafa’, or ‘Felafel meister’,
or whatever sounded good to Amira. It would be cheap, good, healthy, even organic. Low-fat, vegan, raw, paleo, whatever people
wanted, we could do it, cheap, easy, fresh. And once we make it in San Francisco then
to Auckland and then to L.A. and then to New York, to everywhere. But instead what does Amira want? Who the hell is gonna buy cakes in this neighbourhood? Expensive cakes? Forget it! Cheap cakes? Maybe. But expensive cake, no way. Why? Because woman in this country is always dieting
and real men like real men everywhere, they don’t eat cake. Felafel, yes, but not cake. Maybe birthday cake, for kids, huh? But even then, think about it, Amira, one
kid would want a train cake and then another the clown cake and then another’s gonna start
crying for the cake in the shape of a ballerina and who’s gonna make that kind of cake? Not Amira. She wants the fancy ones with the honey and
the pistachio like back home, but the problem is that Americans don’t like this cake – too many nuts. Nuts, I keep reminding her, you know, it make
no difference, this is the home of peanut butter. America has a problem with nuts and God forbid that
one day, some kid decides to have an allergic reaction to one of Amira’s cakes, then what? Then the business will be finished, that’s
what! For you, honey. And you know what honey? This is organic flower. It’s so organic, it is not even opening.

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