The First Volume of the Naijastories Anthology, Of Tears and Kisses, Heroes and Villains, launches today March 27th, 2012.
Below is a review by Abayomi Ogunwale.
THE NS ANTHOLOGY: A SHORT REVIEW
Short stories are truly one of life’s understated gifts; and a well spun tale in the hand of a skilled writer has within it enough power to amaze and transfom us. But stories -good stories- are also like desperate suitors; they turn you in, out, and around with their advances. Compiling a perfect anthology is therefore a difficult undertaking, akin to the task of designing a hostel where all a woman’s suitors can comfortably co-habit, and allow her to transit, unhurt. It is difficult, the task. In two hundred and forty-eight pages, the NS Anthology made it look all so easy.
From the moment I stepped into Durosinmi’s coffin- making workshop in Yejide Kilanko’s ‘‘a glimpse in the mirror’’, I knew I was in for a delightful journey. And even though you feel a little offended and betrayed by Kilanko’s skillful arrangement of Durosinmi’s final plunge, you feel the need to forgive her only because her voice leads you into the arms of another guide: Salatu Sule. ‘‘If tears could speak’’, they would surely fail to match Sule’s eloquently executed coup de grâce. He delivered a sad story in a language that makes you happy. That must be illegal, the execution maybe.
The socially instructive message in Seun Odukoya’s ‘‘Can I please Kill you’’ was well balanced out by the equally well delivered, though lighter prose of Uko Bendi Uko in ‘‘One Sunday morning in Atlanta’’. Such is the authority of the writing that, you feel a certain kinship with Okon; and his words seem to proceed from a part of you.
Rayo Abe Delivered. Her story ‘‘the mother of darkness’’ takes you right back to secondary school. There is something beautiful and even enviable in that ability to capture and sequester all the emotions of a life-phase into one story. The mother of darkness will scare you a bit. But not when you are reading it. The fear comes after you leave the story.
Babatunde Olaifa’s ‘‘Showdown at Rowe Park ’’ is a short read. What it lacks in lenght is adequately compensated for in the vivid and hilarious language of its delivery.
‘‘Blame it on a yellow dress’’ is a story of loss; the loss of innocence. The frail looking Uche Okonkwo writes in a language that belies her phizog. She indicts too; she calls us to more vigilance.
Time would not allow me to tell of the healing humor of Bankole Banjo’s ‘‘the writer’s cinema’’, or of the amorous leanings of Ugoji’s ‘‘seeing off kisses’’, or even of the sobering message in Odeshilo’s ‘‘too late’’. Obudo will compel you along in ‘‘visiting Admiral John Bull’’, and the dark politics of the Niger-Delta Oil Struggle. Otolorin and Vongtau both command admiration, but in different ways: one, in a short Hilarious story, and the other in a more serious but tight prose. Iruene and Lawal will also make you laugh, while Ezenwaka and Awonubi explored more challenging genres with amazing craftiness.
Whitman and Oyeyemi remind you of their quality, with two mature deliveries: ‘‘a kind of Bravery, and ‘‘Two straws in a bottle’’. I stand, hands facing one another; I applaud.
Unfortunately, I do not have the required space and words to comment sufficiently on Ashaolu’s, Osinowo’s, Adekoya’s,Onyema’s, Ilevbare’s, Chukwubuike’s, Turtoe’s, Osi’s, and Elenwoke’s deliveries; a honor that their talent undoubtedly deserve, and which the reader of the NS Anthology will realize at first glance.
The NS Anthology is not perfect; there is no perfect anthology anywhere, no perfect collage in the world. But it is good. Sitting here and typing this review, I know how it feels to read through and summarize a very good book: content, excited and honored. That summarizes the emotions I wish to convey to the fortunate reader who will get a copy of the book. I wish I could, in Oyeyemi’s words ‘‘now to find the words to seal the deal!’’
Abayomi Ogunwale is a writer, medical doctor, poet and social commentator. His articles have appeared in the Sentinel Literary quarterly, Subjective Substance, Firsteditions and the Sun Newspaper amongst others. He is currently studying in Texas, USA and working on his anthology of short stories.
Sent from my BlackBerry wireless device from MTN