October 07, 2014

A Life Elsewhere by Segun Afolabi | Book Review

A Life Elsewhere is a collection of seventeen short stories. Afolabi begins with his 2005 Caine Prize for African Writing Award winning short story, Monday Morning. Monday Morning is followed by: People You Don't Know, The Wine Guitar, Arithmetic, The Visitor, Two Sisters, The Husband of Your Wife's Best Friend, Moses, Now that I'm Back, The Long Way Home, Something in the Water, Mrs Minter, Another Woman, Mrs Mahmood, Gifted, In the Garden, and finally, Jumbo and Jacinta. Of the lot I am most fond of Monday Morning, The Wine Guitar, The Visitor, Two Sisters, The Long Way Home, Something in the Water, Gifted, and Jumbo and Jacinta. That's a lot to like in a short story collection.

There's something Afolabi does with loneliness as a subject matter that I find very, very appealing and laudable. Whether it's random pockets of loneliness in a character's everyday life or a life lived in perpetual loneliness (like the old man in The Wine Guitar), Afolabi makes it fresh and poignant every single time. I really love it when Afolabi's characters congregate in a scene like at dinner time or at an outing. Their interactions are delightful. Everyone with their own private issues coming together to create a memorable scene. I loved it in his first book that I read, Goodbye Lucille, and I love it in this novel too. A Life Elsewhere is not a cluster of tales with happily ever afters. This is real life with all of its fears, tears, worries, and regrets. It's a collection of compelling characters whose stories end in ellipsis, unfinished as Afolabi moves on to the next tale. A Life Elsewhere is a guided tour of humanity lead by the gifted Segun Afolabi who pulls us along even though we want to linger at the windows.
READ Goodbye Lucille by Segun Afolabi - My Thoughts
[Image via Goodreads]