Subscribe to Newsletter
Monthly Newsletter: Join more than 3,000 African literature enthusiasts!
Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our "Guide to African Novels."

Screen Shot 2017-02-20 at 12.02.29 AM

Binyavanga Wainaina has a new essay in Granta‘s latest travel issue. The title of the essay is “Since Everything Was Suddening into a Hurricane.” Binyavanga writes about his experience with stroke and his journey to Nairobi— accompanied by his lover—to patch things up with his father.

We haven’t had an essay from Binyavanga in a long while, so this recent offering is a treat. The opening passages that capture the harrowing experience of a sudden stroke in New York are heart-wrenching.

The two other sections of the essay shift focus to the delicate triangle that ties his devotion to his lover and his anxiety over his father’s attitude towards his same-sex relationship. Those moments in the essay are tender and intimate.

What makes the essay memorable is the language play. Binyanvanga has always had a gift for experimental writing. He has always had a thing for pushing language to its extremes. Naive realists and grammar police know to stay away from his work.

In this essay, Binyavanga marshals all his writing chops and quirks. The peculiar way in which he breaks the rules on punctuation pushes the essay teasingly close to poetry and gives it a nice cadence. It is best to read the essay out loud. Binyavanga writes in fragments, so the flow of sentences are often interrupted by heavy poetic imagery or sudden shifts in subject matter. He freely creates new words by mixing adjectives, blending nouns, transforming nouns into verbs, and vice versa.

The essay is a must-read!

Here is an excerpt.

Three months ago I have, over four days, many headaches. Sometimes it is a thick wet wringing tongue moving there inside the raw roof of my brain, sometimes tiny skinless creatures tiptoeing, tickling and mischieving in my brain. Sometimes it is a big twinkling sponge of squeeze, sometimes some silently ticklish thing, walking upside down barefoot under my naked skull.

Sometimes bit parts and cutlets of my body displace ever so small-ey, side to side, and my waist and my hips are jerky. And then on a Friday my head is squeezing, and fingers sometimes numbing, my legs tripping each other, and I am so everywhere displaced with pinning and needling that I call a Red Hook taxi, am checked in and blood pressured, and Northern Dutchess Hospital tells me I have had up to twelve small strokes. I am ambulated urgently to a special stroke unit in Albany, New York, where I soft slidingly deny to listen or see, all while nodding grinning
to charts and chat and measurements, still refusing to. be. agreeing. to. any. such.

Since that one artery in my brain is nearly full of sticky brackish, they say they will have to put a microsurgery tube containing a microcamera inside my thigh at the beginning of the gushing artery pipe and all the way past past past into my neck and its thick pumping artery, into the filling-up artery in my brain to open the block. I say no. No. No.

I cannot talk, my tongue is swollen and we are laughing. My brain is puff gong. It is softest two-ply cloud computing. My sister Chiqy takes a plane to help me pack up and bring me home. Classes they are nearly done for the term and I will finish and go home to Nairobi. My brain it is humming like quiet and indivisible.

Already I want a cigarette, but not until never. My sister Chiqy arrives in JFK to help me pack up and take me home.

I am feeling so almost. Three months have gone, and with them already a Ghana holiday – tumbling down the hill with endless unrolling two-ply, with the million running tripping puppy dogs inside the African hurricane and the sun orange oozing thickly over small islands in Lake Victoria – and in one hour the Nairobi land below will be dark and toasting, and I will be full in-love, Ghana dark-tan and rampantly overflown, and the plane will land, fat wheels bumping, and we will be home, and we will soon be asleep, in a very Nairobi July cold, a Monday night. 10 July 2011.

Read the full essay HERE.

 

**************

Facebook link image by Erik (HASH) Hersman via Flickr.

Tags: , , , ,

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.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Welcome to Brittle Paper, your go-to site for African writing and literary culture. We bring you all the latest news and juicy updates on publications, authors, events, prizes, and lifestyle. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram (@brittlepaper) and sign up for our "I love African Literature" newsletter.

Monthly Newsletter!

Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our
"Guide to African Novels."

Archives

Erotic Africa: The Sex Anthology | Read e-Book Exploring Millennial Sex Culture and Romance in African Cities

erotic-africa

Much has been said about the state of sex in African literature: whether African novelists are keen on sex, why […]

Zimbabwean Mapping Project Documents the Movements of Dambudzo Marechera in Harare

dambudzo marechera - graph

An unusual mapping project has documented the movements of Dambudzo Marechera in Harare. “Home Means Nothing to Me,” published in […]

Cyprian Ekwensi’s The Passport of Mallam Ilia Gets Animation Movie | Watch Teaser

The Passport of Mallam Ilia - animation

Cyprian Ekwensi’s popular novel The Passport of Mallam Ilia is being made into an animated movie. Premium Times reports that the 2D […]

Yrsa Daley-Ward’s The Terrible Makes Vogue’s Must-Read Books of 2018

yrsa daley-ward - image by Laurel Grolio for Girls At Library

Nigerian-Jamaican model-turned-Instapoet Yrsa Daley-Ward’s memoir The Terrible: A Storyteller’s Memoir has been named among Vogue magazine’s Must-Read Books of 2018. The follow […]

Film Adaptation of Soyinka’s Ake: The Years of Childhood, by Dapo Adeniyi, Tells the Story of the Legend as a Child in the 1940s | Watch Trailer 

Egba women wait on Mrs Kuti at the outset of the women’s riot3

The film adaptation of Wole Soyinka’s 1981 memoir Ake: The Years of Childhood is now available on Amazon. Set during the World […]

Erotic Africa: The Sex Anthology Forthcoming in December

erotic-africa

Twelve months after the call for submissions was made in January, we are happy to announce that Erotic Africa: The Sex […]

Thanks for signing up!

Never miss out on new posts. Subscribe to a digest, too:

No thanks, I only want the monthly newsletter.