Chimeka Garricks Tugs at Our Heartstrings with ‘A Broken People’s Playlist’

“The boy would die, not understanding his death was a grim godsend to this police anti-robbery team – another chance to stat-pad the number of robberies they claimed to have solved.”

In The City

If you’ve heard any of the songs that inspired the short stories in this collection, you’ll appreciate the depth of their stories even more. However, you don’t need the music to realise the power in the stories.

As a die-hard Nina Simone fan, the sixth story I Put a Spell on You stood out for me from the list and that was the one I read first. It wasn’t just the story itself I found hilarious and captivating, but the language itself, characters throwing in pidgin English, had me falling about.

If you start with the funniest one like I did, you’ll see how some of the stories become more of tearing up than knee-slapping. In a beautiful way, though. When Garrick writes about loss, he knows how to include the reader in that moment of grief. When he writes about corruption, he creates a vivid image of those illicit exchanges.

A best friend lost in the chaos of confras, a true love lost on his way to officially be with the love of his life. When the black sheep of the family doesn’t have long to live and throws a living funeral, his brother and ex-wife take us with them through their turbulent emotions.

The stories bring the everyday stories of Nigeria to life, raw, tender, and blatant. It’s short, with only twelve stories and like me, you will gobble it down in a single day (night) like I did. You’ll have the stories stuck in your head like your favourite songs.

Waiting for An Angel by Helon Habila

Lomba’s writing while in prison, unravels the intertwined stories of seven characters whose lives feature during military rule in Nigeria, in the 1990s.

A poetic narration of the despair, depression, desperation and destitution of the people under dictatorship. The streets where students and residents of the state conduct peaceful protests turn into a war zone.

Habila’s writing paints the most gruesome pictures with such flair and mastery, that you can’t put the book down. The story also shows the people’s resilience and hope. Ordinary citizens, journalists, students, artists, poets protest, even with a hefty price they might pay for becoming dissenters.

Add this to your TBR.

Swallow: Efunsetan Aniwura

By Ayodele Olofintude

The story follows the lives of two women, Efunsetan and Efunporonye, who after almost getting married go their separate ways and take us on a fascinating reimagination of Yoruba history and culture. Swallow is centred on queer characters and powerful women, who hold their own in a male-dominated world, during the colonial period.

These are women who oversaw their own lives, their financial affairs, commanding, and leading. Through this story we learn about these two figures, who did in fact, exist in real life. They may have made enemies along the way, but they still managed to own their power persistently, and fearlessly.

An inspiring and illuminating read, and I cannot wait for the next book of the series.