Genre Fiction. Collection of short stories.
Blurb “Discover the next generation of African writers. 21st-century urban and rural life reflected with wit and wisdom. ‘Mother Never Sleeps’ is a lively short story collection with tales of broken marriages and blossoming romance, car chases and minibus rides, Catholic confessions and corrupt ministers.
Contributors: Maryam Aliko Mohammed, Stanley Gazemba, Jude Idada, Sylva Nze Ifedigbo, Joe Machina, Ayibu Makolo, Margaret Muthee, Hannah Onoguwe, Zainab Omaki and Marko Phiri.”
Dialogue Well written and believable.
Themes Change vs Tradition, Temptation and Destruction, Corruption, Greed, Racism, Infidelity and Desire to Escape.
Editing A few errors.
Mo I have missed reading short stories. Not just any short story, good short stories. Social media usage seems to have shortened attention spans; many people now want everything compressed and summarised. I’m not sure this has affected literature yet but people who do not want to spend so much time reading standard books and still want the best out of reading should hop on the short stories train.
The last collection of stories I fell in love with was Hannah Onoguwe’s* Wine and Water. Mother Never Sleeps is the best book I’ve read this year. It ended too quickly… I wanted more stories.
Lady B This collection of short stories was advertised under a Mother’s Day theme on Okadabooks app. I guess the title led to this error but I’m not complaining since it brought the book to my attention. Seeing one of my favourite authors, Hannah Onoguwe as a contributor sealed the deal and I told Mo about it. We both bought copies and decided to review it on the blog. We had an unexpected opening in our schedule this week and voila!
There are ten short stories in this collection set in different cities in Africa. The book can be read in one sitting as it’s a small book. It opens with ‘Ghaddafi’ by Jude Idada, an engaging and well written story in which the author used misdirection to great effect. The execution and the twist is brilliant. It’s a story about Ghaddafi (no, not the dictator) and his role as Aisha’s guardian angel. ‘Ghaddafi’ was the best story to introduce this book to us.
The succeeding stories; ‘The Enamel Dish’ by Maryam Aliko Mohammed and ‘The Confession’ by Sylva Nze Ifedigbo are quite jarring and thought provoking. ‘The Enamel Dish’ is about polygamous relationships which you don’t often read about in mainstream books. The story leaves you wondering what happened next to the protagonist. The multidimensional protagonist in ‘The Confession’ will leave you conflicted. Life isn’t always fair…
Two other stories which stood out are; ‘The Walkers’ by Ayibu Makolo, a story with a paranormal theme is as scary as it is sad and ‘A Full Grown Girl’ by Hannah Onoguwe which was a perfect way to end the book.
We liked how varied the subject matters of the stories are, and how the plots in this collection are unpredictable. The stories feel real and are nuanced with multifaceted characters. The stories evoke feelings of empathy and sadness for the characters and hopelessness about their situations.
As a window into everyday African life, this short story collection works.
What didn’t work?
Mo The book didn’t follow the momentum of the first three stories. Some stories though well-written, seemed pointless. For example, ‘The Escape’ by Margaret Muthee and ‘The Great Unlearning’ by Zainab Omaki but they still had an authentic African feel.
‘Fool’s Gold’ by Marko Phiri didn’t work for me. It couldn’t hold my interest for long.
Lady B My least favourite story is ‘The Great Unlearning’ by Zainab Omaki. It’s written like a musing rather than a short story and reads like a self-help book. It didn’t work for me.
Every story was tinged with sadness. A better mix of happy and sad stories would have worked better.
Number of pages 261 on Okadabooks.
Publisher Bahati books.
Damage N1,820 on Okadabooks.
Do you like collections of short stories? Why or why not? Let’s chat in the comments section.