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Review of Christie Watson’s Tiny Sunbirds

My review of Christie Watson‘s first novel, Tiny Sunbirds, Far Away appeared on Nigeria’s Daily Times last week. Christie Watson won the Costa First Novel Awards for Tiny Sunbirds. The Costa awards is given to authors living in Britain or Ireland. A cool tidbit about Christie Watson is that she’s actually an NHS nurse. And in a Guardian UK  interview, she said there’s no way she’s ditching nursing for writing. The writing nurse! I like the sound of that. Anyway, enjoy my little review of the novel here.

From Flight to Loss: Tiny Sunbirds, Far Away

(Originally published in The Daily Times)

Tiny Sunbirds, Far Awayby Christie Watson is a nice attempt at narrating the loss of home, the travails of exile, and the promise of recovery. Perhaps, this is what gives the novel’s beginning its enchanting quality. There is something haunting about encountering the past through the childlike voice of a 12-year-old. When Blessing watches the street below from a window and describes the bustling mismatch of wealth and poverty that characterises Allen Avenue, one can sense the pathos in her voice. One can sense that this is a world about to be lost. And when her father abandons the family for another woman, it is not just Blessing’s physical home that is lost but also a way of thinking of the world, a way of seeing it in all its romantic distance, from a window.

She, her mother and her brother flee the wreckage of a charmed life in Lagos and are thrown into a world where pain and suffering come up close. Finding herself in a village in the outskirts of Warri and in a house teeming with extended family members, Blessing is forced to live a life to which she is not accustomed. Almost overnight, her old sheltered life in an upper-middle class Nigerian family is shattered. Marble-floored bathrooms give way to pit toilets. Manicured gardens turn into rubbish heaps. She encounters, in this new home, a world where the so-called big and faraway problems like kidnapping, militancy, and environmental pollution become intimate. Continue reading. 

 

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

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