I read This House is Not for Sale by E.C. Osondu over the weekend. It is a collection of vignettes, organized around the conceit of “Grandpa’s house” on the outskirts of (maybe) Lagos, where misfits and miscreants share a common roof under the (reasonably) wise tutelage and patronage of “Grandpa” who appears as a deus ex machina in most stories to resolve the problem. Written in a style that I am coming to label “classical Nigerian” (spare, unadorned prose) though with occasional forays into a more experimental style (“Ibe”), the vignettes are mostly compelling. But it is hard to pinpoint why the book is worth reading. The stories are nowhere near as memorable as, say, the stories in Ben Okri’s Stars of the New Curfew, even though they deal with similar themes of the misery that afflicts poor people in urban Nigeria. Osondu is a really good writer, and I look forward to a proper novel. I think he will do a fantastic job.
Blogs I Follow
- “Novels are machines for falsely generating belief”… essay on fiction, by Zadie Smith in The New York Review of Books
- The Big Sleep, by Raymond Chandler
- Fiasco, by Thomas Ricks
- Adam and Allison Grant rewrite children’s books and much fiction: “Noble deed doers, you should first lecture the victims and help them help themselves more otherwise you are an enabler…”
- Great article in The New York Times about rural America and public services
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