Evie SteppmanвЂ™s mammoth ears are a repository of history, memory, and time. She was born unnamed to British parents in Lagos, Nigeria, during the end of British colonial rule (1946), and, now in her fifties, she is chronicling her story and the stories of various individuals from a collection of documents, letters, diaries, pamphlets, photographs, and assorted, emotionally powerful objects, or вЂњunicaвЂќ (one-of-a-kind objects).
Rufus, a young journalist on his first major assignment, travels into the troubled oil-rich Nigerian Delta, hoping to land his breakthrough news story: interviewing the kidnappers of a British oil engineer’s wife and meeting the captive. The dangers lurking among the oilfields and the pipelines that meander snake-like across the Delta’s waters cannot deter him, especially as he is in the company of his much-admired former mentor, the erstwhile prominent reporter, Zaq. Helon Habila’s new novel, OIL ON WATER is a confidently crafted and absorbing, in parts totally gripping, chronicle of human ambitions, tragedies and failures, but also of love, friendship and perseverance of the human spirit. Evoking the rich and beautiful yet fragile environment of the Delta, that is slowly being devastated by the greed for oil and money, Habila gently guides his different narrative strands into a poignant story that is profoundly personal even where these raise broader political and societal concerns.
A collection of short stories is one of my favorite genres for reading. It is rare to find a book of short stories that is consistent in quality. When I do, it is a rare gift. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s THE THING AROUND YOUR NECK is just such a gift. It consists of stories about Nigeria and the United States, focusing on the clash of cultures and the cultural misunderstandings and prejudices that the protagonists face. This book also includes the short story that I consider my all-time favorite – “The Headstrong Mistress.” I read it for the third time in this collection. I first read it in The New Yorker, then in the Pen/O’Henry Prize Stories of 2010. It gets better each time I read it.
August 29, 2010
В· Judi Clark В· No Comments
Tags: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Immigration-Diaspora, Knopf, Nigeria В· Posted in: 2010 Favorites, Africa, Class - Race - Gender, Short Stories, World Lit, y Award Winning Author
From the first few pages PURPLE HIBISCUS leaves no room for doubt as to how the narrative will unfold: the struggle of the “outside” and more natural world against that of domestic oppression and enforced sterility. As the book opens with a domestic crisis which overwhelms the narrator in its almost silent enormity, she retreats to her room.
The netting in the above quote is the perfect simile for the walls and boundaries, real and invisible, which surround the narrator. Whom do they keep out, and whom do they keep in? In an instant, we know from this passage alone that although they may keep the mosquitoes out, they also enforce a separation between the narrator and the leaves and bees: a separation decidedly unwelcome.
WHO FEARS DEATH is a supernatural odyssey set in an alternate, post-apocalyptic Africa. The unnamed event that devastated this alternate Earth destroyed most of its technology.
Onyesonwu spent her first several years leading a nomadic life with her mother in the desert. The product of a brutal rape, Onye is half Okeke and half Nuru. Her obvious physical traits from her mixed blood brand her as an ewu. The word means born of pain, and many people believe that those born of violence will themselves become violent. They are despised and shunned.