Subscribe to Newsletter
Monthly Newsletter: Join more than 5,000 African literature enthusiasts!
Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our "Guide to African Novels."

Imbolo Mbue.

Million-dollar novelist Imbolo Mbue has a new short story out in Bakwa. Titled “A Reversal,” the story is 596 words of loss and belonging and fear. The work, Bakwa states, was first read by Mbue at the 29th Annual PEN/Faulkner Ceremony in Washington, D.C., on October 16, 2017, where her novel Behold the Dreamers was honoured with the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction—she is the first African to win the prize.

Bakwa is edited by Dzekashu MacViban, and it is fitting that Mbue, whose first short story appeared in The Threepenny Review in 2015, will have her second appear in a magazine in her home country of Cameroon, where she is a native of the seaside town of Limbe. In August, she was interviewed by our editor Ainehi Edoro for our inaugural “The Ask Series.” Her novel, Behold the Dreamers, was most recently longlisted for the 2018 International Dublin Literary Award.

Here is an excerpt of “A Reversal.” 

*

-When I die, do not take me back home, Papa said. Bury me right here.

I sat up on my bed and rubbed my eyes, briefly looking at my phone.

-Papa, I whispered. What’s going on? It’s two o’clock in the morning.

-I needed you to know this right now, he said. I can’t sleep. Whatever you do, do not take my body back to Cameroon.

I looked through the darkness of my bedroom, the light of a passing ambulance briefly illuminating it. I reached for the lamp but dropped my hand, deciding the darkness would be best for a conversation such as this.

-What did the doctor say at your check up yesterday? I asked. Your blood pressure medicine stopped working again?

-No, nothing like that. I’m fine. He says the way I’m going I may live to see the day when people go over to Mars just to have dinner.

I did not laugh. Neither did he, though he’d clearly made the joke for his own benefit.

-Papa, I have to be at work at 6am, so please tell me right now why you’re calling me in the middle of the night to give me this strange instruction.

He didn’t immediately respond.

-Are you going to tell me now, or do you want me to drive to Brooklyn tomorrow…

He sighed.

-I just…

I continued waiting.

-I want to remain here with you and your sister. I have nothing left for me in Cameroon.

-There’s nothing left for any of us in Cameroon, Papa. Except Mama’s grave. And the graves of Mammi and Big Papa. Are you telling me you do not want to be buried next to them?

– Please do not try to shame me. I do not need any of that.

Continue reading HERE.

Tags: , , ,

About Otosirieze Obi-Young

View all posts by Otosirieze Obi-Young
Otosirieze Obi-Young is a writer, journalist, & Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper. The recipient of the inaugural The Future Awards Prize for Literature in 2019, he is a judge for The Gerald Kraak Prize and was a judge for The Morland Writing Scholarship in 2019. He is Nonfiction Editor at 14, Nigeria’s first queer art collective, which has published volumes including We Are Flowers (2017) and The Inward Gaze (2018). He is Curator at The Art Naija Series, a sequence of e-anthologies of writing and visual art focusing on different aspects of Nigerianness, including Enter Naija: The Book of Places (2016), which explores cities, and Work Naija: The Book of Vocations (2017), which explores professions. His work in queer equality advocacy in literature has been profiled in Literary Hub. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review and Transition. He has completed a collection of short stories, You Sing of a Longing, is working on a novel, and is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. He has an M.A. in African Studies and a combined honours B.A. in History & International Studies/English & Literary Studies, both from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He taught English in a private Nigerian university. Find him at otosirieze.com, where he accepts writing and editing offers, or on Instagram or Twitter: @otosirieze. When bored, he Googles Rihanna.

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

Chimamanda Adichie Shares the Ins-and-Outs of Writing Half of A Yellow Sun for Biafra Remembrance Day

Untitled design

  It’s Biafra Remembrance Day, and while many authors have written about the Biafra War, perhaps no other book on […]

Teju Cole’s Essay on The Disposability of Black Lives is Essential Reading for Our Current Moment

george floyd minneapolis teju cole

As we mourn the death of George Floyd, whose life was brutally taken by a white police officer in Minneapolis, […]

Lolwe Needs You to Achieve its Goal of Paying Writers

lolwe (2)

Lolwe is a literary magazine founded in January 2020 by Kenyan writer and editor Troy Onyango. One of the magazine’s […]

Bernardine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other, Shortlisted for The Orwell Prize for Political Fiction

bernardine evaristo orwell prize (1)

Bernardine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other has been shortlisted for The Orwell Prize for Political Fiction. Sponsored by The Orwell Foundation […]

#WeTurnToBooks Returns! Catch Nnedi Okorafor, Kiru Taye, Abubakar Adam Ibrahim, & Ayesha Harruna Attah Live on Instagram

WeTurnToBooks Site

Hey Brittle Paper readers and followers! We’re excited to announce the second installment of our #WeTurnToBooks series on Instagram Live, […]

Tomi Adeyemi Recommends 5 Books to Escape Into While You’re Social Distancing

Untitled design

Wondering what’s on Tomi Adeyemi’s quarantine reading list? Adeyemi recently shared five books she is reading (and re-reading) during the […]

Thanks for signing up!

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

No thanks, I only want the monthly newsletter.