Well, as you know, E.C. Osondu’s Voice of America will be published by Farafina in April 2011. The book has generated a lot of rave reviews already. We have taken the liberty of pasting a few of these. Kinda gives you a taste of what to expect! Enjoy!
In “Welcome to America” a family patriarch who has struck it big in Lagos builds a four-storey mansion and designates it the family house. Relatives from the village are to wake up one day, pack their bags and move to Lagos to stay in this house, where there will always be room for them. Most of them don’t know each other even by sight, but they all eat from the same big bowl. This anecdote works very well as a metaphor for Caine prizewinner EC Osondu’s first collection of short stories, Voice of America. There is room here for every style of storytelling, from folktale to crime tale to satire, to the very sombre and sad – and just when you think the writer has surely exhausted his bag of uproariously funny observations of street life in Lagos, or of immigrant experience in America, he unpacks more.
Just a glance at the title of E.C. Osondu’s debut collection of short stories, Voice of America, yields a small, almost obvious irony. Osondu is a Nigerian-born writer and already the recipient of the Caine Prize for African Writing. His stories overflow with ogogoro gin and Fela Kuti references and, yet, this collection is titled with a phrase that could be fitting for a Sarah Palin rally in Nebraska. Even before the final, titular story about a radio station called the Voice of America, though, the title proves to be fitting. Osondu’s stories are often set in Nigeria, but the narrative momentum is set in motion by the idea, the promise, the distance, the myth, the legacy, the gifts, or, of course, the voice of America.
In “Waiting,” a couple boys stuck in a refugee camp trade descriptions of a place they’ve never been. “There is a tablet for every sickness in America,” says one. “Everyone in America knows how to swim; all the houses have swimming pools,” says another.
The mother who writes to her son in “A Letter from Home” describes a luminous allure, “It did not surprise me when you said you were leaving for America, because you were born the year the American flag was planted on the moon. During moonlight play, while other children saw the man in the moon, you always ran back home to tell me that you saw the American flag waving to you.”
*Coming soon also; Fine Boys by Eghosa Imasuen.