Title: Bloodlines, Tales from the African Diaspora, vol. 1
Genre: Anthology of Short Stories
Pages: 143 (e-copy)
Publishers: myafricandiaspora.com, US
Year of Publication: 2010
Country: Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leon, U.S., Canada
The internet is fast becoming a meeting place of literary minds. In addition to this, it is reducing the problems that one has to go through to get his works published or get to a wider audience. I have benefited from it and I know many authors too who have. However, the greatest literary achievement of the internet is the diversity that it brings. People from different parts of the world are able to come together to publish an anthology that is diverse in its readings and unique in its approach. One such anthology is Bloodlines.
Bloodlines is a collection of fourteen short stories collected through a competition organised and edited by Veronica Henry. The authors are from varied backgrounds such as Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leon, Canada and the U.S. All the stories are uniquely told and carefully selected to tell a story that touches at the heart of life.
Subjects covered in this collection range from the dicey issue of Black-White marriages, lack of self confidence among Blacks, and the everyday issues of life. Genres ranged from Science Fiction to Traditional (if there is a genre like that).
The Other Wife by Cranston Livingston, tells the story of a woman in a polygamous marriage, who decided to bring the other wife into the household. The story deals with the issue of non-recognition, loss and reminiscence.
Skyboat Strangers by Ronald T. Jones: This is a science-fiction story that deals with the attack by strangers from space on the Benin Kingdom. My love for this story stems from the fact that the author created a very ancient story and gave it a science fiction touch. It tells us that we can still write about tradition, about huts and palaces, about calabashes and wrestlings, about bows and arrows, but then we can also incorporate aliens, spacecrafts, flying saucers, into them. That's the freedom that literature provides.
The Old Black Magic by Barbara Jenkins: This novel has a mystic touch. The title was culled from Frank Sinatra's song. It is a touching story between a girl and a guy who is suffering from some unknown disease and always lying in bed. Read this piece, it is a great piece.
Near But Far by Igodiame Soumana: This story is set in Niger. It is a story about a child who was taken by the Djinn as a baby and came back as a Native Doctor--curer of diseases. It is a story about spiritual transformation.
To Rest by Sarah Bass: This is a narrative by a third person who is an observer of events but at the same time knows more about the events like an omniscient observer. It deals with a woman who dreamt of clouds and prepared for it. Another beautiful piece.
Smooth Lanes by H. Abiola: This is a first person narrative. It is a story about a deaf girl (like the author) whose hair was been plaited by her mother. This hair-plaiting was used as an analogy for the choices she had to make in life. Whereas her father showed her two great paths: the Olikage Ransome Kuti path and the Ellen Sirleaf pat, others were showing her or informing her that with her deafness all she can be is an alms beggar. However, she chose well and chose the path of Sirleaf. The story has a lot of beautiful imagery, like the other stories. For instance:
Sometimes her lanes are sharp straight. Sometimes they run like the path of a palm wine drunkard (page 56)
My grandmother's hands start a monologue with my head... (page 56)
No World Order by Jeff Carroll: This is a futuristic story about the destruction of the developed world, North America, South Africa and Technology. This caused the less developed countries to take over the rulership of the world. A new world order devoid of wars, technology and imposition was created. This is a brilliant piece that brings into the future the issues of the past. Black Africa and some countries such as Japan and the southern part of U.S. that were left undestroyed by the bombs. A greater portion of the story is told in the form of reports and interviews. This story is creativity at its best. A must read.
Along Racial Lines by Eleanor Adams: A short story that deals with marriage and relationship between blacks and whites and how Black men love such unions and the extent to which they would go to protect it. The story is told from the point of view of a black girl who is not married and who had been jilted twice, all at the point of marriage, and the men involved had gone ahead to marry white girls. I love this piece simply because it says things people prefer to remain oblivious off and coming from a black woman makes it all the more important.
Fein, The Jew by Raymond Hill: Can you, as a child, approach a man in the dirtiest shop in the ghettos of town and ask him if he is a Jew and that if he were why he killed Jesus? The story is told by this young boy who took such a bold step and ended up with candies.
Rendezvous With Poverty by Arose N. Daghetto: A fight with poverty and losing it. It is a psychological and physical fight. However, after losing the fight, after trying hard to escape and being unsuccessful, she finally got to love him and that was where poverty ditched him.
African Queen by Georgia Ijeoma Ugwu: This story is about the transformation a girl went through when she left her village in Nigeria and travelled to London. Overnight suitors, who were dearth in coming, knocked on her parents' door back home and her name changed from Nna ga nnu (Father will marry) to African Queen.
Black in Love by Larrysha Jones: A black girl who was taunted by people because of her colour and the worst part is that the vociferous name-calling, ridiculing, and insults came from the Black men who at times were darker than her. Ironically, it took a White man for her to gain her confidence though she refused to love him and waited for her Black men. This is the second piece about Black-White relationships.
Lunar Slam by Kalunda Bockarie: A science fiction story about the judiciary system in a country I suppose is Sierra Leon. Here accused criminals, when convicted, are sent to prisons on the moon where prison officers used them the way they deem best.
My Soul to Free by Veronica Henry is a defining story for the collection especially looking at the origins of the website and the development of this anthology. It is a very diasporean call and a good one indeed.
only a true slave don't know how to leave when set free (page 141)
and this is a statement I wish we take to heart. The story is more akin to the Lot story in the Bible. Why should we look back once we are free to leave? Why can't we celebrate with our kinsmen our freedom? Veronica touched a cord here. This is a reflective piece.
All the stories in this anthology would excite you at different levels. They would have a place with you and you would love them. I enjoyed reading each and everyone of them. Though they are all works of fiction they do have reality hidden within them, even the science fiction pieces, all that is needed is for the reader to think deep about it.
I fully recommend this anthology. It is a good one. Get it. Read it.
Read my interview with Veronica Henry here. FTTC Rules: The editor sent me a copy of this anthology.