A group of writers are celebrating Nigeria’s independence day in the best way possible. They’ve put together an anthology titled Naija: The Book of Places. It is a powerful literary project that reflects on the idea of Nigeria in terms of space and place. The collection of stories, poetry, non-fiction pieces, and photography focus on a specific place in Nigeria.
In some ways, Enter Naija is a groundbreaking project. Nigerian literature has historically not been self-aware about space and place. Places appear in fictional works but mostly as an accidental part of the narrative. Never as the central focus. That was why a work like Teju Cole’s Everyday is for the Thief was so novel when it first appeared. Cole elevated the city of Lagos to the status of a character. Lagos wasn’t simply this place where his story happened to have taken place. Lagos was the material and metaphorical center of the narrative.
The writers and artists in this collection do something similar, but they surpass Cole on one fundamental ground. Unlike Cole, they break the Nigerian literary obsession with Lagos. Their exploration of various geographies and urban spaces takes them all over the four corners of the nation—from Uyo to Nsukka to Kano to Ado-Ekiti.
The anthology is edited by the utterly brilliant Otosirieze Obi-Young and features the likes of Arinze Ifeakandu, Chisom Okafor, Bura-Bari Nwilo, Amatesiro Dore, Olanrewaju Tajudeen and a host of others. In his beautiful introduction to the work, the Nigerian book critic Ikhide Ikheloa makes a powerful case for seeing these writers and artists as the brave new future of African literature.
As the editor of one of Africa’s leading literary sites and an avid promoter of new African writing, I am truly happy to present to you this powerful, experimental, and endlessly delightful work.
Enter Naija is available for a free download right here at Brittle Paper. Click the link below to start reading: