As the year draws to a close, I have been reflecting on the literary moments that made 2015 spectacular for me. The top ten most amazing moments, in no particular order (Steve Harvey at Miss Universe style), are as follows:

  1. Meeting Namwali Serpell at the British Library a week before she was announced as the winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing. Her story ‘The Sack’ weaves between conscious and unconscious thought and leaves the reader wondering whether the events that unfold are real or imagined. Other stories from the Caine Prize anthology that stood out were FT Kola‘s ‘A party for the Colonel’ and Efemia Chela‘s ‘Lusaka Punk’.

 

  1. Attending the Poetry Library to listen to Inua Ellams recite British poems that spanned his childhood but retold against an immigrant background was a delight like no other. To say he is a masterful storyteller does not do him enough justice. Purchasing his anthology ‘The Wire-Headed Heathen’ was the best decision I made on the night. I was utterly in awe of Inua’s raw honesty in his poems. It kept me thoroughly entertained on the tube as I journeyed to work.

 

  1. Discovering Francis Mensah Williams’ book ‘Pasta to Pigfoot’ was the first time I felt an author was speaking directly to my soul. I connected with the subject matter of struggling with a relationship where cultures clash in a manner I did not think I would. Overall, I believe what made me read the book in one sitting was the beautiful writing that tugged at my heart in every chapter.

 

  1. Reading Pearl Osibu’s short story ‘Wife, Mother…Whore’ made me seek out more of her writing. She is incredibly gifted and writes about issues most would shun in a compelling manner. This particular story felt very modern with its reference to selfies and other urban life activities. A real thrill of a read.

 

  1. ‘Who Will Greet You At Home’ by Lesley Nneka Arimah was such a great read. It conjured childhood memories of seeing dolls made from eclectic materials and wondering if this is what had inspired the story. A marvellous writer whose tale I cannot do a disservice by summarising in a few lines. Read it for yourself (on the New Yorker website) and be amazed.

 

  1. I wanted to love ‘God Help The Child’ by Toni Morrison. It started off beautifully for me but spun out of control. I generally do not like to read about abuse and I felt the book dwelled on this particular subject matter a lot. Much as I disliked how uncomfortable the book made me feel, I loved that the author set a story in a time period I could relate to.

 

  1. Author Ellen Banda-Aaku was recommended to me by a date that subsequently went belly-up. I sought out the book, ‘Patchwork’ on my Kindle and enjoyed the story about a young girl’s commentary on the relationships in her family as she journeys through to womanhood. An excellent book that uses really detailed descriptions to make one imagine themselves in the precise settings the author conjures up.

 

  1. Author Akwaeke Emezi was first drawn to my attention in the anthology ‘Lusaka Punk and Other Stories’. Her story ‘Burial’ about death, betrayal and male dominance spanning generations made me hungry for more of her work. Finding her other short stories like ‘Femimo’ and a non-fictional piece called ‘Placelessness’ made me realise this is an author whose star is about to rise meteorically.

 

  1. Reading playwright Oladipo Agboluaje’s work ‘Iya-Ile (The First Wife)’ made me shed a few tears that I had missed the production when it was in the theatre a few years ago. A great tale of the conflicts between Nigeria’s affluent class and those that serve them. If ever this play is showing anywhere in the world I will be the first to purchase a ticket!

 

  1. Who can forget how the Twitter story, by Zola aka Aziah King, about strippers in America almost broke the internet? I loved how entertaining the tale was and how the voice of the characters felt so authentic. Most of all, I was thrilled that it got more people interested in the business of reading short stories which, in my book, can only be a good thing.