Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Birdsong by Chimamanda Adichie

A fine short story by Chimamanda Adichie in the current New Yorker. I really like the circling time of the piece and her portrayal of place - the 'relentless unprettyness' of Lagos (Fashola, take note) - and the way she captures subtle everyday experiences of Eko traffic - the snobbery and the servitude. Best of all is her feminist critique of the hypocritical evangelical culture in Lagos corporate spaces: enforced prayer sessions and sexist rituals such as women expected to distribute the birthday cake. I wonder if a Big Lagos Novel is in formation...

As a minor point of criticism, I wonder why some brands are fictionalised (Celnet as code perhaps for Celtel/Zain?) and some are referred to without being named (Goodies on Kofo Abayomi). A stronger evocation of place and time would have been preferred, in consistency with her reference to reading NEXT.


joicee 3:05 pm  

I read the entire story with a smile on my face..nice one

Fred 10:02 pm  

This kind of writing has quite the familiar feel to it, which is not the same as saying I'm tired of it. It's quite good.

You however, doc, have a very weird way with language: "a stronger evocation ... would have been preferred ..."
Ever hear of active writing?

Myne Whitman 4:37 am  

Thanks for bringing this to my knowledge. It has generated quite the discussion on my FB page.

Chi,  10:01 am  

This is okay writing, but it is samey!! I am beginning to feel that ones you have read her you always know what to expect. Sometimes, it is quite comforting to know that a writer will never disappoint and one can always retreat into the comfort of the familiar. However, sometimes, is the very familiarity that can make some of her stories one big yawn!!

Anonymous,  11:54 am  

Excellent writing as usual. I enjoyed reading. It has a nigerian quality to it ("Do I owe you?"), and it is still internationally accessible. Adichie was in my humble opinion, right to use fictional terms. It is professional to do so.

Anonymous,  10:04 am  

Awesome, awesome story

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