Deftly capturing the richness and dangers of romantic connection, these stories complicate and reimagine queer narratives.

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Nine blazing stories about the joys and tribulations of queer love in contemporary Nigeria.

The stories of Ifeakandu’s debut collection are nothing less than breathtaking and daring, each exploring queer relationships in all their nuanced and unpredictable configurations: secret romances, brief but passionate encounters, relationships that are tested by cultural pressures. At the centers of these carefully constructed stories are queer men whose identities and romances are constantly ruptured by political turmoil and by stratified social and cultural ideas of masculinity. What, these characters ask themselves, makes a man? How to reconcile the tension between one’s interior self—one’s burning hopes and desires—and the expectations that family and tradition have foisted on him? The opening story, “The Dreamer’s Litany,” examines the relationship between Auwal, a small-business owner, and Chief, a wealthy and flamboyant man who promises to help Auwal with his business for a price; the two men develop a sexual relationship, though Auwal is not convinced he can really trust Chief and his wife begins to suspect there’s something taking place between them. “Where the Heart Sleeps” is a moving tale of Nonye, a young woman returning to her father’s house for his funeral. There, she gradually opens up to Tochukwu, her father’s partner, whom she has resented for taking her father from her mother and her. The title story follows the romance of Lotanna and Kamsi, two college boys who must constantly renegotiate their commitments to each other as family and social pressure threaten to pry them apart. In “What the Singers Say About Love,” a young musician’s ascent into the public eye requires that he subdue major pieces of himself and pull away from the man he loves. Using a variety of forms, including stories broken up into numbered sections and stories employing first-, second-, and third-person narrators, many of these tales bear the emotional weight and complexity of novels, with the reader pulled forward by lucid prose and excellent pacing. Most compelling, though, are the unforgettable characters and the relationships that hurl them into the unknown and dangerous depths of their desires.

Deftly capturing the richness and dangers of romantic connection, these stories complicate and reimagine queer narratives.

Pub Date: June 7, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-7345907-1-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: A Public Space Books

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

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A flabby, fervid melodrama of a high-strung Southern family from Conroy (The Great Santini, The Lords of Discipline), whose penchant for overwriting once again obscures a genuine talent. Tom Wingo is an unemployed South Carolinian football coach whose internist wife is having an affair with a pompous cardiac man. When he hears that his fierce, beautiful twin sister Savannah, a well-known New York poet, has once again attempted suicide, he escapes his present emasculation by flying north to meet Savannah's comely psychiatrist, Susan Lowenstein. Savannah, it turns out, is catatonic, and before the suicide attempt had completely assumed the identity of a dead friend—the implication being that she couldn't stand being a Wingo anymore. Susan (a shrink with a lot of time on her hands) says to Tom, "Will you stay in New York and tell me all you know?" and he does, for nearly 600 mostly-bloated pages of flashbacks depicting The Family Wingo of swampy Colleton County: a beautiful mother, a brutal shrimper father (the Great Santini alive and kicking), and Tom and Savannah's much-admired older brother, Luke. There are enough traumas here to fall an average-sized mental ward, but the biggie centers around Luke, who uses the skills learned as a Navy SEAL in Vietnam to fight a guerrilla war against the installation of a nuclear power plant in Colleton and is killed by the authorities. It's his death that precipitates the nervous breakdown that costs Tom his job, and Savannah, almost, her life. There may be a barely-glimpsed smaller novel buried in all this succotash (Tom's marriage and life as a football coach), but it's sadly overwhelmed by the book's clumsy central narrative device (flashback ad infinitum) and Conroy's pretentious prose style: ""There are no verdicts to childhood, only consequences, and the bright freight of memory. I speak now of the sun-struck, deeply lived-in days of my past.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 1986

ISBN: 0553381547

Page Count: 686

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1986

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A quick, biting critique of the publishing industry.

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What happens when a midlist author steals a manuscript and publishes it as her own?

June Hayward and Athena Liu went to Yale together, moved to D.C. after graduation, and are both writers, but the similarities end there. While June has had little success since publication and is struggling to write her second novel, Athena has become a darling of the publishing industry, much to June’s frustration. When Athena suddenly dies, June, almost accidentally, walks off with her latest manuscript, a novel about the World War I Chinese Labour Corps. June edits the novel and passes it off as her own, and no one seems the wiser, but once the novel becomes a smash success, cracks begin to form. When June faces social media accusations and staggering writer’s block, she can’t shake the feeling that someone knows the truth about what she’s done. This satirical take on racism and success in the publishing industry at times veers into the realm of the unbelievable, but, on the whole, witnessing June’s constant casual racism and flimsy justifications for her actions is somehow cathartic. Yes, publishing is like this; finally someone has written it out. At times, the novel feels so much like a social media feed that it’s impossible to stop reading—what new drama is waiting to unfold. and who will win out in the end? An incredibly meta novel, with commentary on everything from trade reviews to Twitter, the ultimate message is clear from the start, which can lead to a lack of nuance. Kuang, however, does manage to leave some questions unanswered: fodder, perhaps, for a new tweetstorm.

A quick, biting critique of the publishing industry.

Pub Date: May 16, 2023

ISBN: 9780063250833

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 22, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2023

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