Writings of the general word's body

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

New Reads

Chika Unigwe is currently on a book tour of Nigeria with her first novel, The Phoenix. We draw from her tireless pen for this instalment of 'New Reads', with excerpts from 2 recently published stories.

In Per Contra we have 'The Day Independence Came' - set around 1960 as a young girl and her family eagerly await Nigeria's independence. Independence comes all right, but not quite as the girl narrator imagines. Excerpt...

Three days later, when Mama Boy, the woman who lived in the apartment below ours saw me in my tight braids, she smiled and said I was ready for Independence.

I did not know who Independence was, but I was sure that Independence was more important than a chief because my mother took me down to the market to have my hair braided. And Father bought me a new dress that same day. A pink dress with a satin bow. And matching red shoes with white stripes. The dress looked like something out of my mother’s magazines. “For Independence,” he said. I wanted to try them on immediately, but my mother tied them up in a Kingsway plastic bag and stowed the bag at the bottom of the cupboard in the bathroom. “When Independence comes, you can wear them.”

- Read The Day Independence Came


In Alek (published in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly), societal upheaval devastates a young woman's family - in Sudan. Excerpt...

The SPLA, Sudan People’s Liberation Army, which had been guarding the predominantly Dinka town, was withdrawing. There was a rumour that the janjaweed militia were making their way to Daru. To sniff out the SPLA members. And to cleanse the city of its Dinka population. People were disappearing. They would have to travel light, Nyok said. They might not be able to hitch a ride. Not with four of them: Alek, Ater - her younger brother- Nyok and Apiu, the parents. I liked going to Khartoum. It was a different world. High rise buildings. Lots of cars. And women with henna on their feet and hands. The elaborate designs intrigued her. They seemed to have their own lives. To move. Alek often wondered what it would be like to be hennaed all over (but she would be careful not to get the henna around her cuticles. Henna around the cuticles spoilt the entire beauty of it. It made the cuticles look dirty. As if the women had spent hours digging up crops and had not bothered to wash their hands.) But this was not a shopping trip. Or a sightseeing trip to the museum. This was a fleeing from home.

- Read Alek

1 comment:

Uzo said...

A lot of press about her and the tour...Need to get a copy of her book soon