Mary Helen Specht
August 13, 2013
Chinelo Okparanta photographed by Montreux Rotholtz.
Reading Chinelo Okparanta’s debut story collection Happiness, Like Water is the literary equivalent of taking apart a Matryoshka nesting doll: Stories are hidden within more stories. In “On Ohaeto Street,” the mysterious, unidentified narrator tells us a story he’s heard “and imagined enough times now to be able to describe it as if it were my own experience.” “Story, Story” introduces us to a lonely, troubled character called Nneoma, who claims to have told her particular tale only ...
When I call A. Igoni Barrett on the phone, he’s in Lagos, Nigeria—not because he’s visiting his native country but because, unlike most successful Nigerian writers, he still lives there. “The stories I want to tell are Nigerian,” he says. “By leaving, I suspect I’d lose something important.”
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