This is a list of short stories/essays that I enjoyed reading through August. With it being the year’s eighth month, I incidentally managed to read some eight stories and essays. Well, here is the list accompanied by short descriptions – not reviews – which I hope will have you reading or checking out this curated list. In no particular order of liking or time read, here we go.
At Your Requiem by Bongani Kona
Caine Prize, 2016.
Childhood… Abraham and Christopher have a profoundly difficult childhood. Punctuated by familial dysfunction, the narrative of this short story will have you. If the moods set out as somber as appropriated by the titular inference, then its autobiographical narrative assumes an even dark tonality, of course, to help with the life’s journey through childhood to adulthood with snapshots of reminiscing about traumas had, and a life lost, as a result.
Caine shortlisted, find it here.
Pee Goes Quick by Lutivini Majanja
Transition Magazine, Issue 134, 2023.
High school boarding was a unique experience by far. Being visited at school was fun and it’s one of those things that had me excited in my high school. And besides, if your high school was fun then Lutivini, for all its joys and sorrows, takes you down memory lane. What I appreciated about this short story is how it captures, through visual imagery, the melodrama of dorm life.
Check it out here.
To Be Known Is To Be Loved by Yvonne Wangithi
Isele Magazine, 2022.
Uganda had just passed the anti-gay legislation and this was followed by the whole Prof Lumumba debacle in South Africa. Reading Wangithi gets you close to being an ally if not thinking of homosociality and really vernaculars of love and being.
Dear Father, I Write To You From The Land Of The Living by Ucheoma Onwutube
Isele Magazine, 2023.
If Indangasi’s posthumous declarations of the countenance of Micere Mugo irked you, as they ought to have I think, Ucheoma’s writing will signal some deep-thinking tenets of appreciating the departed, their failings notwithstanding. Your assumptions with the titling already point you to what the deeply personal essay is about.
Give it a try here.
Disassembly by Makena Onjerika
Fireside Magazine, 2020.
I found myself reviewing one of my friends’ articles for a presentation at the just concluded biennial Eastern African Literary and Cultural Conference, held at Makerere University. It covered this speculative fiction by Makena, of profound aesthetic intervention in the East African canon -if such exists, which is her writing as she always does, with elegance and grace. Besides, it was a timely read given the near fashionable angling towards mental health. The short story relates work dynamics and mental health in Ntinyari’s life of course with context and temporal snapshots of the latter.
Find it here.
Sande by Mercy Munyanya
Oh boy! This one has everything. Among the dense narratives I’ve read this year, Munyanya’s is definitely on top of the list. Diaspora, work, study, life, money, Kenya, politics, and real estate tucked neatly in surely one of Lolwe’s best picks of the year. Or maybe I’m giving this one too much rating…
In Your Mother’s Kitchen by Daniel Ogba
Food is sacred and eating it is a ritual. But the kitchen where we often prepare the meals often are storytelling ground and that is just what Ogba’s fiction digs into. This one just tastes as well as Jolof would.
Zikora by Chimamanda Adichie
Amazon Original Stories, 2020.
For the umpteenth time, I incidentally re-read this short story by Adichie. This turn not for the quote for which I go to the short story often, “Some kindnesses you do not ever forget. You carry them to your grave, held warmly somewhere, brought up and savored from time to time” but for an excavation of some ideas on reproductive health, justice and rights. Of course, you can read it for many reasons and excuses, but if I were you, it’d be for that quote.
Kindle it here.
Wambua Muindi teaches at the University of Southern Somalia’s Institute for Languages and Literatures. He’s currently reading for his MA in Literature at the University of Nairobi where he acquired his Bachelors. A writer and reader with a drift, he has been engaged with various creative and literary spaces like Writers Space Africa-Kenya, Paukwa, Africa in Dialogue, Asymptote Journal and Isele Magazine. He is a writer at The Fifth Draft.
*Image from Iwaria