Happiness, Like Water (Paperback)
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Wahala: Pidgin English, Nigeria. Meaning: Trouble. In this brave debut collection, Chinelo Okparanta introduces us to families burdened equally by the past and the future. High expectations - whether of success in Nigeria, or the dream of opportunity and accomplishment in America - consume them. These are universal stories of ambition and longing, and of the sacrifices women are capable of at home and away. In "Wahala", a couple, Chibuzo and Ezinne, visit a traditional healer hoping finally to conceive a child. But where Chibuzo is focused on the family they will surely have, his wife Ezinne longs only for escape. In 'Grace', a middle-aged college professor comforts a troubled young Nigerian student. The relationship that develops between the two women seems as inevitable as it is forbidden. A mother seeks refuge from an abusive husband in 'Shelter'; an embittered spinster recalls the loss of a dear friend in 'Story! Story!' and a daughter finally faces up to the painful truth of her childhood in 'Tumours and Butterflies'. A teacher makes yet another attempt to obtain a visa in 'America', hoping to join her lover who has emigrated there. With a writing style that is both raw and elegant Okparanta's stories are often told from the point of a view of a child - a little girl, an adult daughter. Her closely observed characters populate stories that offer a clear-eyed but often traumatic view of family life, questioning the purpose of their time on earth, and whether there is a hereafter, or a different kind of afterlife altogether, outside of Port Harcourt.
Portobello Books Ltd
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