A new short story by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, On Monday Last Week, is in the new issue of Granta. Kamara has come to join her husband in the US and she babysits Josh while waiting for her Green Card. Josh's mother is an artist who never comes out of her basement studio. Three months pass, and Tracy the artist comes upstairs suddenly.
And now three months have passed. Three months of babysitting Josh. Three months of listening to Neil’s worries, of carrying out Neil’s anxiety-driven instructions, of growing a pitying affection for Neil. Three months of not seeing Tracy. At first Kamara was curious about this woman with dreadlocks and skin the colour of peanut butter who was barefoot in the wedding photo on the shelf in the den. Kamara wondered if and when Tracy left the basement. Sometimes she heard sounds down there, a door slamming shut or a brief burst of loud music. She wondered if Tracy ever saw her child. When she tried to get Josh to talk about his mother, he said, ‘Mummy’s very busy with her work. She’ll get mad if we bother her.’… Tracy’s existence became inconsequential, a background reality like the wheezing on the phone line when she called her mother in Nigeria. Until the Monday of last week.
-Read it in Granta 98
A very enjoyable edition this is. There's a photo essay of the Port Glasgow area of Scotland that's depressing to see, even before you read outgoing editor Ian Jack's accompanying piece about the region's history. Timely for the imminent smoking ban in the UK, there's a short story by Jackie Kay, "The Last of the Smokers" - in which two old friends mull over lost loves and consider whether to give up smoking. And above, a wonderfully honest personal sexual history by the 90-year-old Diana Athill, tracing her romantic companions from the beginning, to the last two men she consorted with. The very last, Sam, had served in the government of "the Redeemer" - Kwame Nkrumah.
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