Writings of the general word's body

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

New Reads

This week's new reads are all about the Caine. Naturally, since we now know 3 Nigerians are in the running for the 8th Caine Prize for African Writing (Ada Udechukwu for Night Bus; EC Osondu for Jimmy Carter's Eyes, and Uwem Akpan for My Parents' Bedroom). Completing the list of 5, are Uganda's Monica Arac de Nyeko (first shortlisted for Strange Fruit in 2004), this time for Jambula Tree, a lesbian love story published in the Ama Ata Aidoo ed. Anthology, African Love Stories (Ayebia; 2006); and South Africa's Henrietta Rose-Innes for the story, Bad Places.

Excerpt from Uwem Akpan's My Parent's Bedroom - narrated by nine-year-old Monique, who unfolds a horrific tale set in Rwanda in 1994, yet manages the feat of not once mentioning the word 'genocide'...
I don’t understand why Maman is saying she wants to be with me when she won’t even look my way. I see dirty water dripping down the white wall beside me. It is coming from the ceiling. At first, it comes down in two thin lines. Then the lines widen and swell into one. Then two more lines come down, in spurts, like little spiders gliding down on threads from a branch of the mango tree in our yard. I touch the liquid with the tip of my finger. Blood. -
Read on.

Excerpt from EC Osondu's Jimmy Carter's Eyes, in which a blind girl suddenly sees better than anyone, in an old-style fable for a globalised world...
One day a little girl went missing in the village. Sometimes children would go missing but they would normally be found within a few hours. This was different. No one had seen the girl. When a child went missing, the mother of the child would tie her headscarf tightly around her waist and go around the village crying and asking Who has seen my child? It was generally believed that by the time she lost her voice, the missing child would be found. By the second day the child was still missing. The mother had lost her voice but the child was not yet found. When the mother walked past the woman frying bean cakes, crying and screaming, “Who has seen my child?”, the blind girl spoke for the first time.

“I know who stole the missing girl.” - Read on

EC Osondu's A Letter From Home (also published in AGNI) has been revealed as one of the Notable Stories of 2006 in the Million Writers Award. A cursory glance at the longlist also shows Crispin Oduobuk (for Maiduguri Road) and
Petina Gappah (for Something Nice From London - published in Per Contra & in print in Farafina vol. 8). Gappah recently placed second in the SA PEN award, judged by JM Coetzee.

Excerpt from Monica Arac de Nyeko's Jambula Tree...
Sanyu, after all these years, I still imagine shame trailing after me tagged onto the hem of my skirt. Other times, I see it, floating into your dreams across the desert and water to remind you of what lines we crossed. The things we should not have done when the brightness of Mama Atim's torch shone upon us - naked. - Read more excerpts here.

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