The Noir short-story collection series landed in Lagos last year! The series which began with the Brooklyn Noir collection and has over 90 titles all named and set in major cities around the world now has a collection set in Lagos and written by some of the favourite Nigerian writers.
13 short stories set in different parts of Lagos – locations included MMIA, Obalende, Ikoyi and Berger. Some bland stories, some thought-provoking and some pulsating stories but all combine to make a pretty decent collection.
I enjoyed Chika Unigwe’s Heaven Gate for its portrayal of the hope that sustains the poor as they seek a breakthrough in the megacity that is Lagos. It also captures how same hope tempts the poor into taking risks that seem silly and irrational to a bystander.
Uche Okonkwo’s Eden raises urgent questions about parenting in middle-class Nigeria and how siblings bond in the strangest circumstances. The constant debate about spanking in parenting is present in the story and it is obvious how easily spanking strays into the domain of child abuse.
Another story that stood out in the collection for me is Igoni Barrett’s Just Forget and Try to Ignore. I have always found this writer frustrating. His short stories are either spectacular or completely flat, forced and forgettable. This one was spectacular. Every character in the story stands out, the frustrations of the main character are vividly described and felt by the reader. House hunting is a peculiar nightmare in Lagos and this story captures the essence with a good dose of wit.
The final story that stood out for me in Lagos Noir is Killer Ape by Chris Abani. It is a very humane story that revolves around a murder and a same-sex relationship between an expatriate and his housekeeper. It is an expertly told story. I could not have expected anything less from a writer with Chris Abani’s pedigree. It was a fitting end to a good collection of short stories.