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Wednesday, 5 October 2016

56 Years of Nigerian Literature: Suzanne Ushie

Photo via the writing disorder

It's day four of my celebration of Nigerian women writers, and today the focus is on Suzanne Ushie, whose recently released story, Let's Talk About Something Else, I had the absolute pleasure of reading yesterday. Published by Saraba - in anticipation of their forthcoming Power Issue - the story follows Uzilibe - a young woman living in Lagos, who quits her job after her boss gropes her, and then heads to London to clear her head and stays with her friend, Bendeustu. But leaving a great job is ridiculous, right? Especially when it was just a grope, right? It's really not a big deal? All he did was brush against her breasts and squeeze her bum? Clearly she overreacted, right? Totally overreacted! Beautiful story on a not-so-beautiful topic, sexual harassment in the workplace and how people react when you react (instead of ignore it).

Cover photograph by Magda Kapa. Source: Saraba

Beyond this new fiction supplement, Ushie - who (used to?) work in advertising and has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia - has had her stories in a number of print and online publications, including Dissembling and The Ghost of Joy in Sentinel Nigeria, Above the Line in Overtime, Swans in Conte Online, From an Empty Place in Fiction Fix, We Don't Sweep at Night in The Writing Disorder, Home is Home in Lunch Ticket and Fine Red Dust in Gambit: Newer African Writing. 




Speaking of Gambit, four years ago in an interview with Emmanuel Iduma for The Mantle, Ushie shares her thoughts on the art of creating and more, such as what fascinates her about the writing process: 'The inexplicable thrill that comes with finding a potential good story.' And on the internet as a platform for new and emerging writers: 'The Internet has made life easier for me and tons of other emerging writers.' As well as how her 'experiences as an ad woman occasional show up in [her] work.' There's also this op-ed Ushie wrote a few years ago on finding writing:

For as long as I remember I've always wanted to be a writer. I wrote my first book titled 'The Mahogany Caves', borne out of an imagination shaped by Enid Blyton, just before I turned nine. In those early years I played ten-ten and hopscotch with my sisters in our compound in Calabar, and during our frequent adventures, I imagined that the orchard where my father grew his precious fruits was really a secret garden. There was always something to daydream about, to write about.
Although in the earlier interview on the Mantle, Suzanne Ushie states 'I don't really write nonficiton ...  I may write [it] to help clear my head in those moments.' There are a number of non-fiction pieces written by Ushie, which can be read here: The Serious Guide to Becoming a Seriously Unfashionable Writer republished in Saraba's Fashion issue, with some satire which even provides a handbook with 10 points on how to look more like a writer: No. 2 -  say goodbye to that 'sixteen inch Brazilian weave for a brand new dreadlocked diet', and maybe even cancel that 'eyebrow waxing appointment at the Day Spa.' There's also The Gravity of Faith and Lipstick, Eyeliner & Everything in Between in Brittle Paper. 

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