Book review: Migrations: New Short Fiction from Africa


Book review: Migrations: New Short Fiction from Africa edited by  Efemia Chela, Bongani Kona and Helen Moffett (this edition published in 2017)

I’ve recently made a resolution to read much more local and continental fiction, because there is just so much incredible content out there. 

For some reason a lot of us have internalised the warped idea that international is somehow better, and that what is produced locally cannot measure up – which is simply untrue. 

There’s also perhaps the stereotype that African literature is all about war and poverty and race, interspersed with a few appearances by lions, but again – a patently false assumption. 

Not that those issues aren’t important, of course, but there’s so much more to be had.

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A wonderful friend of mine has been involved in the production of the Short Story Day Africa anthology for the past few years, and I have just finished reading the 2017 instalment. 

This collection really runs the gamut of styles, genres and emotions, all interconnected by the central theme of migration. I have to admit that my particular favourites usually veer towards those in the realm of speculative fiction, and this anthology was no exception. 

I very much enjoyed the two stories focusing on very different versions of human journeys into some kind of afterlife: one making imaginative use of cloud technology, and the other relying on our own biological plasma as the conduit.

The very first story in the collection features a boy, a crow, and an ending that will break your heart. 

As a reader, we are then taken on a number of different journeys throughout the anthology, whether literal or figurative. 

There are stories involving those who leave for another land or another dimension, and those who return in both physical and spiritual forms. There are journeys of self-discovery and self-reckoning. Journeys into love and back out of it. 

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Contemporary narratives alluding to today’s migratory horrors, and historical perspectives on troubling legacies. Sometimes our protagonists find that the new land of milk and honey is not always what they expect. For others, home is where, and with whom, you make it.

This well-written, diverse collection was a real treat – brimming with emotion, thought-provoking and wonderfully imaginative.

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Read more of Hannah’s reviews on her book blog.

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