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Monday, March 19, 2012

NaijaStories Anthology – A Review

History has just been made. I will not rubbish the significance of this anthology by neglecting to mention the accomplishment it stands for. The internet is changing our mainstream publishing and literary industry, and those who stick to the past may become victims of obsoleteness. Naijastories started out as an online literary portal, but has, before our very eyes, become a solid-pillared castle. It now has an anthology to be read. For comprehensiveness, NaijaStories is an online forum of aspiring writers and literature lovers. It was launched on March 31th, 2010 and has over the years gathered weight on the country's literary scale.

Apart from offering recognition to member-writers for their works, it has also inspired many through quarterly competitions of valuable prizes. This e-community is distinct, creative and borderless in a special way. What facilitates the connectedness of this community is the mutuality of purpose and interest of all members. There are quite a number of writers whom NaijaStories has nurtured to strength. I will call this a renaissance in our literature.  Armies of new writers are sprouting up on this website. Their voices are fearfully palpable. This anthology is a strong-drum of their resounding echoes and the dauntlessness of their courage. Hail NaijaStories members!

The NaijaStories anthology is not the first of online writing to be collected into a sellable anthology, but in Nigeria, it may be. What the NS anthology has confirmed is the reaches of the Internet, which can only be limited by the imaginations that drive it. Don't plod along, rush to NaijaStories.com and become a citizen of this new movement. It is engineering the progress of good Nigerian writing. I am a proud account holder of this big community and I do not gurgle to say that. My NS byline is Joseph Omotayo and I am honoured to be part of this.

I really can go on and on.  But my assignment is simple. Call this a spiel and I won't flinch a bit. I am only being part of a change that is perniciously sweeping out the conventional gatekeepers and those who have spurned and stifled the voices of developing Nigerian writers for long. The internet is bigger than them. NaijaStories anthology has just proved that with its array of thirty short stories.

These are stories of breathing themes. They are a good diversion from the sluggish usualness of some professional few. These short stories are not constrained by the need to attain fame. They all are, first of all, good works written with sharp perspectives that are related to various societal issues. There is a unique allure in every story. They have not been sifted through Western colander. Support this anthology and show that there is a worthiness of effort in putting it together. This anthology is indeed the birth of writers that have newly been empowered. Go get a copy for yourself.


A DIP: 10 of 30
Rachel's Hero (Henry Onyema)
There is no way Bright can have limbered up for this even if he has seen it coming. He is only left with the instinct to defend. This piece is not absolutely a fictional imagining of a writer. I fear it is a prophecy that shouldn't be allowed into reality. Boko Haram's assaults have been raging in the North. In this story, they have come to the South; to Lagos. No doubt; every patriotic prayer will be against what this piece foresees. In Rachel's Hero, the onslaught of terror on Rachel, a school in Lagos, is what Bright, the hero, is up against. Boko Haram's fusillades are irrepressible and Bright Omoregbe must stop them in bloods and deaths.

If Tears Could Speak (Salatu Sule)
However, tears speak. I do not mean the salty water that streams down the cheeks in response to bodily hurt. I speak of the invisible cries of solitary sufferings that only reverb its voices in mournful recollections of wounds healing and reopening. This contribution is a poignant account of a life hurriedly taken, the shoddiness of the country's security system and the multitudes of tears bearing words in letters to the lovely departed; updating him of the lives of Hassan, Walid, Faiza and the narrator-mother.

Can I Please Kill You? (Seun Odunkoya)
Let's come to think of it. Stereotypes are our stories. How they are told is what makes them an irritating burden. It is only when we speak of them in an uncreative ways that they soon begin reeking of fraudulent tendencies. Seun's piece deals with the usual in an uncommonly sterling manner. Is it with the adroit the plot is laid out, or in the fluidity of its confident words? Either way, Seun writes this well. This one is on the psychological tremor a lady goes through in between the decisions to keep a life forming in her and kill it before it is born.

Mother of Darkness (Rayo Abe)
This story is unpredictable. Hassana, Amaka, Opeolu and Osese toy with the spiritual power they are oblivious of. They will chant invocations to summon the Mother of Darkness. They won't know the Mother of Darkness answers their first call. It is only when Bola, their school's senior girl, scolds them again in their various homes that Osese will see how successful they are in their first spiritual endeavour in the school's common room.

Blame it on a Yellow Dress (Uche Okonkwo)
This reads frailly. It is fraudulent. It is only modeled after stories that insult our collective intelligence to seek empathy. The subject matter is exaggerated. It is in to appease the thirst of African blackness and gloominess.  I do not doubt the reality of the theme, but the writing losses the authenticity to back its claim up. There is really nothing new in this story. I would advise the writer to bed his creativity on issues that haven't been flogged into commonness. There is nothing exciting to explore in the story and I am indeed sorry to honestly submit this piece as that. It is about the sexual abuse a female child suffers in the hands of her father and how she lives with the trauma.

The Writer's Cinema (Bankole Banjo)
 The opening paragraphs of this story are intelligently deceptive. It initially reads essay-like. In truth, it is different from the way fiction is relayed. It binds the power of memoir writing with prose. The lines are curious, they fall into each other to reveal rinds of building suspense. The story accounts the struggle a writer lives with – those of his society and the imaginary turmoil he must conquer to survive as a writer.

The Devil's Barter (Raymond Elenwoke)
Raymond entertainingly blends morality with artistry in this piece which teaches morals without being bland. It is Kevin's soul Satan has come to demand. There are various worldly gifts to be handed over to Kevin if he acquiesces to Satan's demand. Kelvin struggles to get past Satan's request. But in the end, only his willed power will decide if Satan will have his soul. It is jolting; you do not want to read this as a bed time story.

What Theophilus Did (Gbenga Otolorin)
Nigerian politics is a complex tapestry of its devilish making. I love this piece for lashing out at the duplicity that is a feature of the country's political structure. There are juices in politics and what Theophilus will do won't really matter much, in as much as his political ambition is realized. Otolorin spoils this piece with misshapen flashbacks that only stretch the plot meaninglessly.

A Glimpse in the Mirror (Yejide Kelanko)
This challenges convention in its entirety. Religion is not presented in forced dogma. Belief is thoroughly examined and it is clearly seen that the beauty and the devilishness of religion is not in the religion but in the practitioner. The story follows a psychological track in different slides. The first is Durosinmi's longing to understand the last stare in his father's eyes, while the other is the patience needed in his coexistence with Baba Ibeji and the solitariness he is in as he seeks meaning to (his) life.

A Kind of Bravery (Myne Whitman)
Individuality is a joyful thing. When we become fractions of another whole, the separateness of our being is lost. Zube's thirst to become a member of an unruly group is hurriedly short-lived. When Zube's financial responsibility to the group is demanded, he won't mind bearing the punches of Paul, the leader, to become free once more.


The Interaction of Web-links

Before this anthology goes viral, I would prefer every writer's name in a hyperlink to their individual profile on the website. What this will do is simple; it will enable readers to foster literary relationships with writers and thereby establish tracks on the progresses of such followed writers. Everybody on NaijaStories continuously horns his skill by each submitted post, following hyperlinks to writers' previous and updated works on the site will greatly engender a reader-writer communion.
You should really get this book now, sebi you know I have not been drooling all along?

***            ***           ***

To get a copy of the anthology, read the information below:

Read on NAIJASTORIES.COM - 200 NSpoints per story

Buy Paperback from the 
NaijaStories Createspace Store

Buy as Kindle and Print from 
Amazon.com

Buy the NOOK version from 
Barnes&Noble online

Buy the eBook from 
Smashwords.com
                                                           

·         You can also read more book reviews on this blog or go HERE for some more.

11 comments:

  1. Thanks for the honour Joseph, thank you.
    Bankole

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  2. @Bankole. You're welcome. Your short story is really a good read.

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  3. You are slowly but surely carving a space for yourself in the realm of literary analysts. Great job. <3

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  4. @Emmanuel. Thank you so much! I appreciate it.
    @Nana. Thanks for reading, Nana.

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  5. Congratulations to Naija stories on the publication of its first anthology. It is going from strength to strength. I think they fitted in a broad spectrum of themes (although romance seems to be missing...tut tut). Thanks for the rundown, Joseph. I'd love it if you can score stories on a scale of one to ten.

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  6. @Oluchi. I can see you really like the Romance genre. There is a story that tilts to that in the anthology. On scoring the stories on a 1-10 scale, wouldn't my judgement be questioned if all score 10/10? Now you see why I shouldn't do that. I can only pick out issues and analyse them, scoring will be quite a difficult task to do in an anthology as engaging as this. Thanks for reading and commenting. I am greatly appreciative.

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  7. Thanks for linking me to your review - I really enjoyed reading it. I agree that internet is changing the publishing industry and online platforms like Naija stories are an important part of this change. Like you I also think links to the authors in the anthology is necessary. There are definitely some authors in the anthology that I'd like to know more about.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, bookshy. Thanks for reading and commenting. Please do visit here again.

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  8. Just reading this for the first time. Nice review bro.

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  9. @Samuel. Thank you so much for reading and commenting, bro.

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