HAPPINESS, LIKE WATER by Chinelo Okparanta

Book Quote:

“Happiness is like water…We’re always trying to grab onto it, but it’s always slipping between our fingers.”

Book Review:

Review by Friederike Knabe  (JAN 12, 2014)

Chinelo Okparanta came to my attention after her story, America, was a finalist for the 2013 Caine Prize for African Writing. It tells the touching story of a very special friendship between two young women that challenges Nigerian traditions and social conventions… America has been published as one of ten stories in this, her first collection, Happiness, like Water. Okparanta is without a doubt becoming a promising representative of the new generation of Nigerian and African writers who are giving growing prominence to the field of African short fiction writing.

Chinelo Okparanta’s engaging stories in this book, some set in Nigeria, some among Nigerian immigrants in the US, explore a wide range of topical subjects and concerns. Mostly told through the eyes of a first person protagonist, she writes with confidence and sensitivity, her language is subtle, yet also lucid and powerful. Despite the short fiction format, her characters are realistically drawn and we can comprehend the challenges of their various circumstances. While her stories are rooted in her Nigerian background (she moved with her parents from Nigeria to the US at the age of 10) she addresses such issues as love, longing and betrayal, faith and doubt, and inner-family and inter-generational tensions and violence in such a way that they move beyond the specific and become stories of human struggle and survival. Yes, there is happiness too – fleeting moments that need to be savoured, hope for a future where it can establish itself…

Do I have favourites among the stories? Maybe I do, but each reader will find those that feel closer to home or that affect us individually more deeply than others. Fortunately, I don’t have to choose.

AMAZON READER RATING: from 24 readers
PUBLISHER: Mariner Books; 1 edition (August 13, 2013)
REVIEWER: Friederike Knabe
AUTHOR WEBSITE: Granta page on Chinelo Okparanta
EXTRAS: Excerpt
MORE ON MOSTLYFICTION: Another collection of short stories:


January 12, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Africa, Short Stories, World Lit, y Award Winning Author

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