Voice of America
By E.c. Osondu
(Harper, Hardcover, 9780061990861, 224pp.)
Publication Date: November 2010
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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An electrifying debut from a winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing
E. C. Osondu is a fearless and passionate new writer, whose stories echo the joys and struggles of a cruel, beautiful world. His characters burst from the pagethey fight, beg, love, grieve, but ultimately they are dreamers. Set in Nigeria and the United States, Voice of America moves from the fears and dreams of boys and girls in villages and refugee camps to the disillusionment and confusion of young married couples living in America, and then back to bustling Lagos.
In "Waiting," two young refugees make their way through another day, fighting for meals and hoping for a miracle that will carry them out of the camp; in "A Simple Case," the boyfriend of a prostitute is rounded up by the local police and must charm his fellow prisoners for protection and survival; and in "Miracle Baby," the trials of pregnancy and mothers-in-law are laid bare in a womans return to her homeland. Each of the eighteen stories here possesses a voice at once striking and elegant, capturing the dramatic lives of an unforgettable cast of characters.
Written with exhilarating energy and warmth, the stories of Voice of America are full of humor, pathos, and wisdom, marking the debut of an extraordinary new talent.
E.C. Osondu was born in Nigeria. He is the winner of the 2009 Caine Prize for African Writing and a 2011 Pushcart Prize, and his fiction has appeared in The Atlantic and n+1. He received his MFA from Syracuse University and teaches at Providence College in Rhode Island.
“E. C. Osondu has written uncannily direct stories with nothing ‘posed’ about them. This is acollection of real power, surprise, and harsh beauty.”
“Osondu looks at the human condition in all its poignant absurdity; with observant wonder and subtle humor, he portrays our capacity for heartbreak, resilience, love, courage, sorrow, and most of all, our unique capacity for hope and hopelessness rolled together.”
“A big-hearted story collection. . . . Meticulous and energetic, these stories brim with stubborn hope sprung free from life’s dark realities.”
“Compelling. . . . Osondu’s direct and humorous insights and poetic descriptions create a captivating portrait of time and place. . . . Whereas the stories set in Nigeria have a fablesque quality, the American-set tales are poignant studies of the immigrant experience.”
“His characters may dream about America, but E. C. Osondu’s bracing portrayal of life in Africa is the heart of this debut story collection.”
-The New York Times
“Osondu’s excellent short stories, set in both Nigeria and the U.S., reveal the vast cultural chasm that persists between our countries. . . . These richly shaded tales explore old ways and new, wealth and poverty, myth, and misapprehension.”
“Tinged with hilarity. . . . Osondu juxtaposes the richness and desperation of life ‘on the ground’ in Africa with the actualities of the American dream. . . . He goes beyond mere examination to achieve artistry. . . . This book is essential.”
“A man with a clear head and a great ear, writing from crucial places.”