Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Book Review: AND THE NIGHT HISSED.’ by CLAUDE OPARA



Length: 185 pages
Genre: Thriller, Historical Fiction
Publisher / Year: Authorhouse and Thomson Press / First published in 2011, reprinted in 2013
Rating: 4/5
Why I Read It: I wanted to see how the author handled an African story set in a time period poorly covered by History.
Read: in 2011
Reviewed by: C.C. Chuks
Author: Claude Opara
Website: www.andthenighthissed.com.
The book is also available at
http://www.konga.com/and-the-night-hissed-paperback.





A team of Britishers on a slave expedition to coastal West Africa hear the words “Olori Ejo", the name of a mumbo jumbo that strikes dread in the hearts of locals, and dismiss it as pure superstition. But is it?

"...And the Night Hissed." is a story set in the early 17th century. Reginald Cromwell, the sole medical doctor on board a slave ship, the Mater Lucia, on the West African Coast, is on a trip he'll never forget. He's saddled with looking after the health of his team and their merchandise. The territory is expectedly unfamiliar. Their journey through rainforests with tall trees, which form several layers (canopies) above the shortest ones, has an unantipated peril.  Their mission starts off hitch-free on primitive coasts with fairly developed slave infrastructures. That is until they come across butchered human remains marked with what looks like emblems of Olori Ejo--bronze carvings of the head of a serpent sitting on leafy sticks--on their route. Cromwell has trouble keeping the slaves calm and is rather surprised that their panic is not the result of their capture but of being struck by something they fear even more than the white man: an unseen bogeyman they call "Olori ejo". 

Local hostilities and restiveness rise. One-by-one, Cromwell and his colleagues are attacked by something that comes and goes with the flutter of leaves. For Dr. Cromwell, what starts out as a rather fascinating spook story, a fable of a people of pristine culture, takes on a new dimension and his curiousity turns into his greatest nightmare. As surreptitious waves of reprisal attacks reduce their number, he finds himself falling back on his training as a psychologist to keep his team in the right frame of mind. Funny. The last time he checked, they carried the superior armory and stealth was their thing. Were they losing their heads to local mind games? They had come prepared for mosquitoes and malaria, not a half-man-half-snake mumbo jumbo. The Yorubas allegorize Nemesis as a great snake called Olori ejo, and it was now punishing them for their murderous raids with strikes foreshadowed by wrack and ruin preambles for most minds. One thing is for sure, there is an unseen killer about and its trademark is a night-renting, mind-shattering hiss (some sort of war cry or expression of disgust) before it hacked its victims. If they are to survive these forests, they must stay together and not lose their minds.

This is a gory, irksome, embittering and frightening work of fiction set in the dark terrains of ancient West Africa. The narrator is a medical doctor who is expectedly more humane than his comrades in dealing with the slaves they accrue. Readers may find themselves wishing death upon the British crew for their cruel treatment of their captives, but for Dr. Cromwell, I believe, most will root for him to survive, and this adds to the tension. The treatment of slaves is rather disturbing but there are many lighter moments in the book. The dialogues are interesting and flow quite nicely. Each crew member is portrayed candidly from the viewpoint of a very relatable Dr. Cromwell. The climax is impaling. Overall, the novel is a well-illustrated thriller with a suspense that doesn't let up even with the last full stop (maybe the title should have had an ellipsis at the end instead of the beginning). It's an ending that will make you question everything you know (I won't give anything away).

You can read more about Claude Opara HERE

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Calls For Submissions: Writers In Residence

PORT HARCOURT WORLD BOOK CLUB CAPITAL


Interested applicants must include include a statement of what they hope to achieve during the residency, a detailed curriculum vitae and a 1200-1500 words excerpt from a published or unpublished work.
 
Applications can be submitted through the form in , or mailed electronically to wir@portharcourtworldbookcapital.org not later than Friday 22nd August, 2014.

Successful applicants will be notified from 10th - 19th September, 2014.

For inquiries, write to the Writers in Residence Programme Coordinator via wir@portharcourtworldbookcapital.org or call telephone on 08023187731.

Or go to: http://portharcourtworldbookcapital.org/index.php/news/440-writers-in-residence-call-for-participants

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

How Writers Write Fiction: A Free Online Course from the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program

Ever dreamed of attending a prestigious school of creative writing? Here's your chance.

Starting on 27 September, writers can participate in the latest MOOC offered by the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program. The program is titleHow Writers Write Fiction: Talks on Craft and Commitment.

The course will run until 8 November and intends to be an interactive study of the practice of creating writing. Program coordinator will be Christopher Merrill, Director of the International Writing Program. A curated collection of talks created by fifty authors of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and literary translation will be featured. Online discussions, writing assignments and practical workshops will complement the talks.

I think this is a great opportunity for but established an budding writers who want to improve their craft, especially since How Writers Write Fiction: Talks on Craft and Commitment is free and open to all. No need to fear rejection as there are no limits on enrolment numbers.

To participate, sign up via the Writing University site. Or Click on the Writing University site.

Looking forward to seeing you there.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

And The Overall Winner of the Commonwealth Writers' Prize is...

...Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi. She was announced the winner in Kampala, Uganda, on 13 June, 2014. 

Congratulations Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your short story, Let’s Tell This Story Properly

To read the overall winning story of the 2014 Commonwealth Short Story Prize , CLICK HERE. Or go to: http://www.granta.com/New-Writing/Lets-Tell-This-Story-Properly

You can read more about Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi by visiting THE COMMONWEALTH WRITERS' WEBSTIE.

Entries for the 2015 Commonwealth Short Story Prize open on September 15 2014. Deadline for application is 15th November 2014.

Monday, June 16, 2014

And The Latest State Literary Icon Of Ebonyi State Is...

On 29th May 2014, Obinna Udenwe was recognized by the Ebonyi State governor. It was the first time the award of the State Literary Icon was awarded by the government of Ebonyi State to an individual and organization working to promote literature in the State.

He received the award of the State Literary Icon for his body of literary works, and his organization,
Ugreen Foundation clinched the other award for promoting literature and education in the state. Ugreen Foundation has been annual organising creative writing programs that encourage budding writers. The Foundation has also published an anthology of short stories titled Voices From My Clan.

Congratulations Obinna! Here are pictures of the award ceremony.











Thursday, June 5, 2014

Calls For Submission: Short Story Day Africa's Terra Incognita

Short Story Day Africa wants short stories of speculative fiction: horror, fantasy, dystopian, sci-fi, alternative history and magical realism all fit the bill. The theme for this year's competition is Terra Cognita.

Word count: 3000* – 5000 words.

The long-listed stories selected by the panel of judges will be collected in an anthology and published individually on Worldreader Mobile to over half a million readers.
Selected stories will be entered in The Caine Prize for African Fiction, hence the lower word limit.
 
Deadline: 30 June 2014
The shortlist will be announced in September 2014. Winner announced in October 2014.
 
1st Prize: R2000 cash
(Sponsored by BooksLive)
10 Module Creative Writing Course from All About Writing worth R5000The 2013 Caine Prize Anthology
 
2nd Prize: R1000 voucher to spend on African fiction at an indie bookshop of your choice
(Sponsored by Louis Greenberg)
The Character Course from All About Writing worth R1500The 2013 Caine Prize Anthology
 
3rd Prize: R300 voucher to spend on  African fiction at an indie bookshop of your choice
(Sponsored by Paige Nick)
The Power of Writing Course from All About Writing worth R500The 2013 Caine Prize Anthology
 
The longlist will receive a e-book of the anthology, and a work of African short fiction from
Modjaji Books.
 
To Apply, CLICK HERE.

For more information, CLICK HERE.




Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Shortlists: Caine Prize and Commonwealth short story prize

This months has seen the announcement of two of the biggest literary prizes in Africa. But this year, Nigeria hasn't been so lucky. We got one spot on the commonwealth shortlist and zero, on the Caine prize shortlist. And our only Nigerian contestant didn't make the semi-finals (regionals). Better luck to Nigeria next year.

Fifteenth Caine Prize shortlist:

Commonwealth Regional Winners
The Regional Winners of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize were announced on 14 May, 2014. The overall winner will be announced on 13th June.

Africa: Let’s Tell This Story Properly, Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi (Uganda)
Asia: A Day in the Death, Sara Adam Ang (Singapore)
.Canada & Europe: Killing Time, Lucy Caldwell (United Kingdom)
Caribbean: Sending for Chantal, Maggie Harris (Guyana)
Pacific: The Dog and the Sea, Lucy Treloar (Australia)