A 2013 Etisalat Prize for Literarure flash fiction category winner, Uche Okonkwo has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Manchester, UK. Her short stories have been published in print anthologies and online. Uche lives in Lagos, Nigeria, where she once worked as an editor at a small publishing firm. She currently divides her time between working for an art auction house, writing fiction, and writing and editing freelance. She shares some of her writing on her blog, and is working on a collection of short stories. Okonkwo talks about her writing in this interview with our contributor, Geoff Gyasi.
Foe is a small sized novel written by the South African author, J.M Coetzee. Published by Viking Press in 1986, it is only a hundred and fifty seven pages. Coetzee retells Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe – a story about a castaway who spends 28 years on a remote island and is later rescued after several encounters with cannibals, insurgents and the likes.
The first of J.M. Coetzee’s three fictionalised memoirs, Boyhood narrates his childhood living with his family on a housing estate outside Worcester, a small town some ninety miles from Cape Town. The book written in Coetzee’s usual style – terse, succinct, sparse – is narrated solely through the young boy’s eyes.
Published by Heinemann in 1987, African Short Stories is a collection of short stories written by writers from different parts of Africa and edited by the Nigerian celebrated author Chinua Achebe and C.L Innes. The range of stories in this collection is diverse and covers a broad and wide spectrum, rich in African themes.
Es’kia Mphahlele’s Down Second Avenue is an autobiographical book that recounts his experiences of Apartheid in South Africa. The book recounts Es’kia’s life story from A – Z – from when he was a young boy living in Marabastad ( in Pretoria) through to when he became an adult and fled the country to go into exile. Es’kia’s account of life under apartheid is vivid: painting the hardships he experienced even as a young boy living with his grandmother.
Bones tells the story of a Zimbabwean farm-worker, Marita, looking for his only son who has gone on to fight in the Zimbabwean War of Liberation as a freedom fighter. Marita is a strong and courageous woman, a farm worker who promises herself to be happy when she finds her son, the freedom fighter.
Kwakye’s book, The Sun by Night (published in 2006) won the 2006 Commonwealth Writer’s Prize for Best Book in the Africa region. It begins like a riddle which seeks to unravel the secrets surrounding the death of an Accra prostitute. The story surrounds the arrest and trial of a rich man called Koo Manu who is both a wealthy businessman and a respected politician and is being tried for murdering a prostitute.
In Yaba Badoe’s True Murder, we meet Ajuba, an eleven year old, shipped off to a boarding school in Devon by her Ghanaian father, following the breakup of her parents’ marriage and her mother’s mental breakdown. At her new school, Ajuba makes friends with Polly Venus, a new girl, who comes from a glamorous but dysfunctional family. Their friendship sees Ajuba spend most her school breaks with Polly and her family. One summer holiday, Ajuba and Polly discover what they believe to be the bones of kittens. Later, they realize that their discovery is not what they think it is
The Canoe’s Story, written by Ghanaian author Meshack Asare, is a children’s book, told from the perspective of a tree. This richly illustrated story recounts the tree’s journey from forest to ocean, and the work that the fishermen put into turning the tree into a canoe.
The story revolves around a young child named Adu, and is told almost entirely through the eyes of this child. Throughout the book, we follow Adu’s encounters with the natural element of death that swipes many of his relatives, and we share the pains, sorrow, and grief he endures.