Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Short Stories on Wednesday: Stories from Nigeria

Lately, I have been trying to read more new-to-me writers from different parts of the world. Short stories are obviously the best way to explore an unknown literary terrain since they don’t require you to commit too much time. To that end, I read two Nigerian short stories by writers I haven’t heard of before. Admittedly, that’s not saying much since the only Nigerian writers I have heard of are Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Chinua Achebe.  I found these and many other fascinating stories in The New Black Magazine.  

THREE ANGELS by Uche Peter Umez

This story was titled A Very Short Story on the index page of the site and a very short story it is. Just about a page or two in length, it nevertheless manages to pack quite a punch.  It’s about a man whose wife has just delivered triplets. He should be happy but he isn’t because he can’t imagine how he’s going to feed them all on his meagre income. He sees just one, unhappy solution to the problem but it isn’t going to be easy.
I’m going to keep this short or my review will turn out to be longer than the story itself. However, I must say that the writer manages to convey an immense amount of feeling in very few words. This won’t take up more than a few minutes of your time and it is definitely worth that and more.
You can read it online HERE.

ITALIAN VISA by Jekwu Anyaegbuna

Ifenna has just lost his mother and her funeral turns out to be quite the spectacle with Uncle Ibe raining curses and accusations on everyone present. Not to mention the unorthodox burial of the corpse with a broom and a knife. Later, Ifenna is back at his University at Lagos, months away from a degree when his half brother Okezie calls him with the exciting prospect of a factory job in Italy. But nothing is quite as simple and straightforward as it seems.
This was a strange story and I’m not quite sure what to make of it. I don’t mean that it was bad, it wasn’t.  It was actually quite engaging and even funny. It’s just that the first half seemed leisurely while the second half seemed to skid all over the place. Still, I’m glad I read it. It was a peep into a world that I know very little about.
Here it is. If you decide to check it out, do let me know what you thought of it.


  1. I just had a quick read of Three Angels. You're right, it manages to convey quite a lot in such a short piece.

  2. *spoiler alert!*

    Oh, it's so sad. It's a situation we hear of quite frequently among the poor here. There's no money, no birth control, more children than they can feed, and then suicide or something like it. Most poor people here in India think having more children is a good thing because that means more hands to work and earn for the family. However, this leads to so much else and they never have enough.

    I feel so sorry for Chigbo and his family. This reminded me of a Somalian woman who had triplets around the same time my mother had my kid sister. The doctor said it was her fourteenth of fifteenth delivery - all of them having been either twins or triplets! A year later the doc said the same woman had come had twins again. Wow! It still amazes me. I don't know what her situation was, though. She might have been well of.

    Umez leaves the story so open ended. Does Chigbo leave? ...powerful little piece in content alone. I've never read any nigerian writers... I look forward to reading the other one sometime later this week...

  3. I have read two short stories by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie which I really enjoyed, an essay on Joseph Conrad by Chinua Achebe (which is interesting though I reject his conclusion that Conrad is deeply racist-In my reviews of the Caine Prize Stories for best short fiction by someone from Africa, I read several short works-some quite good, some needing some help-thanks for sharing this link-I enjoyed your post a lot

  4. Sophia I'm glad you liked it. Thanks for dropping by.

    Risa You are right. stories of this kind are depressingly common in all developing and underdeveloped countries. It affected me for this very reason.

    Mel U Thanks. I've only read Half of a Yellow Sun by Adichie and I did read, with great interest, the comparative study you did on Said and Achebe's views on Conrad.