Walking on cowrie shells : stories

by Nkweti, Nana,

Format: Print Book 2021
Availability: Available at 8 Libraries 8 of 11 copies
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A "boisterous and high-spirited debut" ( Kirkus starred review)"that enthralls the reader through their every twist and turn" ( Publishers Weekly starred review), named one of the Most Anticipated Books for Brittle Paper, The Millions, and The Rumpus, penned by a finalist for the AKO Caine Prize

In her powerful, genre-bending debut story collection, Nana Nkweti's virtuosity is on full display as she mixes deft realism with clever inversions of genre. In the Caine Prize finalist story "It Takes a Village, Some Say," Nkweti skewers racial prejudice and the practice of international adoption, delivering a sly tale about a teenage girl who leverages her adoptive parents to fast-track her fortunes. In "The Devil Is a Liar," a pregnant pastor's wife struggles with the collision of western Christianity and her mother's traditional Cameroonian belief system as she worries about her unborn child.

In other stories, Nkweti vaults past realism, upending genre expectations in a satirical romp about a jaded PR professional trying to spin a zombie outbreak in West Africa, and in a mermaid tale about a Mami Wata who forgoes her power by remaining faithful to a fisherman she loves. In between these two ends of the spectrum there's everything from an aspiring graphic novelist at a comic con to a murder investigation driven by statistics to a story organized by the changing hairstyles of themain character.

Pulling from mystery, horror, realism, myth, and graphic novels, Nkweti showcases the complexity and vibrance of characters whose lives span Cameroonian and American cultures. A dazzling, inventive debut, Walking on Cowrie Shells announces the arrival of a superlative new voice.

It takes a village some say
Rain check at MomoCon
The devil is a liar
Night becomes us
Schoolyard cannibal
It just kills you inside
The statistician's wife
Dance the fiya dance
The living infinite

Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "Nkweti's debut collection of short stories effectively establishes the fact that there is more than a single story about the Cameroonian diaspora. The broad canvas she uses allows for an exploration across class and region in lives influenced by connections to Africa. Nkweti's characters also cover a wide range, from a diffident teenage graphic artist in New Jersey to grieving Mami Wata in Louisiana. With a skillful mix of genres, from literary realism to magical realism, each story offers a many-layered vision of experience. Whether dramatizing the problematic assumptions underlying adoptions of children from Africa, or diving into the ways an African American can feel pressed to prove her or his degree of African authenticity, Nkweti's gripping characters are always front and center, and both individuals and communities come alive. The author's many nuances also include her use of pidgin English in some stories to capture the flavor of immigrant interactions. Strong characterization and smart storytelling make for a stand-out first book and a remarkable addition to the literature of the African diaspora."
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "Nkweti's beautiful and immersive debut collection challenges hackneyed depictions of a monolithic Africa through an array of dynamic stories that reflect the heterogeneity of Africans and the Cameroonian diaspora. The satirical "It Just Kills You Inside" features a PR man who capitalizes on a fast-spreading zombie virus in Cameroon, which turns into a cash cow after refugee camps and the adoption of African zombie babies become Hollywood's latest cause célèbre. In "The Statistician's Wife," 40-year-old economist Elliot Coffin Jr.'s interview with two homicide detectives in the aftermath of Elliot's wife's murder is punctuated by disturbing statistics on the number of women in Nigeria who are murdered by their husbands. Other stories switch between diary entries and narrative, as in the heartrending "Dance the Fiya Dance," in which linguistic anthropologist Chambu evades her cousin's attempts at matchmaking while grappling with her own ambivalence toward motherhood. Whether Nkweti is writing about water goddesses, zombies, or aspiring graphic novelists, she reveals and celebrates the rich inner lives of those who do not fit neatly into social and cultural categories. But the author's prose shines the brightest; Nkweti's sentences soar, enthralling the reader through their every twist and turn, and often ending with a wry punch (a fledgling church headquartered in a Brooklyn apartment is "still undergoing a slow renovation that has spanned from Easter Sunday the year prior into an unknown future--unto the end of days, perhaps"). This is a groundbreaking and vital work. Agent: Rachel Kim, 3 Arts Entertainment. (June)"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Race relations -- Fiction.
Zombies -- Fiction.
Religion -- Fiction.
African Americans -- Fiction.
Cameroonians -- Fiction.
Short stories.
Publisher Minneapolis, Minnesota :2021
Other Titles Short stories.
Language English
Description 185 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm
ISBN 9781644450543
Other Classic View