Monday, 14 October 2013
2013 Caine Prize winners- my review
I don't know what to call this post-book review or short story review....
But my very good friend Olly sent me 5 short stories that were selected as the top 5 short stories for the 2013 Caine Prize For African Writing some month's ago. Now the exciting thing was that 4 out of the 5 shortlisted writers were Nigerian (whoop!). So I read these stories recently and I was impressed at how well Africans have been able to depict so much about our continent through their stories. Here's my review on the stories.
"Foreign Aid" by Pede Hollist (Sierra Leone): This one was funny-from the very first page. The guy who has been "americanized" comes back home to show off only to realize that home folks are set in their ways and are not ready to change their ways of thinking. The irritation and disgust he felt at several occasions was hilarious.
"Bayan Layi" by Elnathan John (Nigerian): The way the writer shows how peer pressure, gang fights and hooliganism develops and grows amongst very young men is commendable. But the story also shows how beneath a hard,cold front, there lies beneath a soft, fearful and insecure interior and most times that interior forces its way into the open when one does not expect it.
"America" by Chinelo Okparanta (Nigerian): Aaaaah this one was interesting. If you like to read about 2 women in love with each other, you would probably like this one! But this is actually also a typical love story and it speaks of the sacrifices and struggles lovers face just to be together.
"Whispering Trees" by Abubakar Adam Ibrahim (Nigerian): Deeeeep. Thought provoking. Inspiring. Slightly enigmatic and disturbing. The story takes you through the ordeal of a young man struck by tragedy and his life-changing, supernatural and very unexpected experience later on.
"Miracle" by Tope Folarin (Nigerian): My favourite! Oh I really enjoyed this one. I don't even wanna say too much cos I know I would just end up giving you the full story! But anyway I love the story because of how the writer subtly shows us how deluded people could be, mostly because they have the need to be deluded, and how people yearn for the miraculous, so bad that they even begin to desperately paint pictures for themselves.....no, you have to read it to understand. I am not doing the story any justice. I believe in miracles-please do not get me wrong;but this story is such a crafty blend of insight, humour and wit! :-)
OK so guess who won? Tope Folarin! And of course I felt good satisfaction inside when I checked the Caine's Prize website to find that he won. I would have voted for "Miracle" if I had the chance to.
I got the chance to check out Elnathan John's blog as well and I must say, I enjoyed many of his writings, albeit controversial in some cases, but most of them are also funny, witty and sarcastic. But I particularly liked his blog bio. What struck me about it was the absolute honesty it reflected. I totally admire anyone who is not afraid to say how he feels, how he truly feels inside. That takes a lot of guts, confidence and wisdom. Here's what it says:
Elnathan is a writer and lawyer. Although he is routinely called a journalist, he rejects this title, preferring instead to be called a writer. His works have appeared in ZAM Magazine, Per Contra, Evergreen Review and the Caine Prize for African Writing anthology 2013. He writes for Sunday Trust and Metropole. He has never won anything. This record was almost disrupted by the Caine Prize when they accidentally allowed his story on the shortlist in 2013. Of course, he did not win. In 2008, after being lied to by friends and admirers about the quality of his work, he hastily self-published an embarrassing collection of short stories which has thankfully gone out of print. He hopes to never repeat that foolish mistake.He has just completed work on a new collection of short stories and is working on a novel. Nobody seems to want to publish his collection of short stories. This puzzles him. He really loves those stories. Elnathan is touchy about his skin and man boobs and isn't bold enough to grow hair. One of his new goals is getting to a weight below his current 100kg and losing his fast growing beer belly. He hopes to start a family comprising a partner, no kids and two hairy pets.
After reading that, you kinda feel like you like him already, right? lol.
What are your favourite short story writers?