January 07, 2017

Voice of America by E.C. Osondu | Book Review

Voice of America is a collection of eighteen short stories. It begins with Waiting and ends with the titular story, Voice of America. Some of the characters live in Nigeria and fantasize about the American life while swapping and parroting myths about Americans. Other times the characters are immigrants living in America and grappling with the realities of the American way of life. Of the eighteen short stories I only like seven - Waiting (I love, love, love this one. There's a reason it won the 2009 Caine Prize for African Writing), Bar Beach (love this), Our First American (love this one), Jimmy Carter's Eyes (I love this one a lot. It was a finalist for the 2007 Caine Prize for African Writing), A Letter from Home (love this), The Men They Married, and I Will Lend You My Wife. I had a mixed reaction to some of the remaining nine stories and disliked a couple of them.

Voice of America is E.C. Osondu's debut collection of short stories. It was published in 2010 and I've seen it referenced and recommended so many times over the last few years. Because it's so well regarded I expected to like it or at least a good chunk of it but things didn't turn out that way. I loved the first few stories but as I got further in my reading I encountered more and more stories I did not care for. Welcome to America was where my reading completely stalled for the first time. Every other entertainment choice in my house was more appealing than returning to that story but I finally got through it.

The first E.C. Osondu book I read was his second collection of short stories This House Is Not For Sale when it was published last year. I love that book a lot. Voice of America bears some similarities with This House Is Not For Sale except that the country of obsession by its characters is America instead of Britain. Voice of America is very enjoyable at the good points and E.C. Osondu's humor cracked me up just as it always does. I honestly would have liked to walk away loving the majority of stories in this highly regarded collection by Osondu. Honestly. If This House Is Not For Sale is an 8 out of 10 then Voice of America is a 5 out of 10.

This House Is Not For Sale by E.C. Osondu | Book Review

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  1. Interesting!!! You prefer This House is not for sale to Voice of America...

  2. Yeah. I read this 3 years ago and only enjoyed 1 story- 'A Letter from Home'. Overall, I found the collection quite dry so I don't really have any interest in reading 'This House Is Not for Sale' :/

    1. Oh damn one story out of the eighteen? Sorry. Yeah you might still not like "This House Is Not for Sale" but I did. What book are you reading right now? I'm still on Onuzo's novel.

    2. Yeah oh (I reviewed it in 2014). I actually liked the 1st story and it even won the Caine Prize in 2009 I think. That story was heartfelt and
      made me buy the collection, but chale it was a dry collection to me
      lol. I just finished 'soft magic.' by Upile (Malawian poet), so right
      now I'm trying to decide what to read next. Is Onuzo's novel getting better?

    3. Ohh okay. No o, the novel isn't getting better but I will try and finish it so I can move on to another.

  3. Oh and I wanted to share my review of Osondu's book, from 2014 : https://africanbookaddict.com/2014/07/03/voice-of-america-stories-by-e-c-osondu/