A few years ago, Chima Nwoke shared a short story with me… then another … then the same one but with some changes.… Our conversations on WhatsApp were epileptic, my fault entirely, as anyone who knows me can attest to how terrible I am at texting. But I always looked forward to these epileptic conversations, because each story or character continued to change, until Amaechi was born.
Do you know how powerful one must be to consistently develop the characters and plots that come together to birth a book? I think it’s truly powerful! So before we dig in, let’s raise our imaginary glasses to the author, to he who said ‘I will’ and did. To the person who made me throw my head back in laughter as I read of how a traditionally-inclined family, intoxicated by religion, baptized their chi and christened him Marcus.
Amaechi is Chima Nwoke’s debut novel which explores several genres, including African folklore, mythologies, heists, and African futurism.
What I love most about the short stories in this work are the imaginative components that make one feel like part of the cast. In Low Budget Sherlock Holmes, for instance, I caught myself so many times imagining who the likely suspects might be. There was also the added thrill of it being set in Nsukka, a location I spent four years of my undergrad and a place that holds several dear memories in my heart.
Second, I love the intentionality that went into naming each story. My favorite titles are ‘His Name is Marcus,’ ‘Nwa Ekwensu,’ and ‘Low Budget Sherlock Holmes.’ These titles provoke some curiosity on first read, but they also make you think, ‘Ah, it makes sense that he chose this title’ after you’ve read each short story.
Finally, reading this reminded me of the days I spent reading One Week One Trouble or No Longer at Ease. It was easy to get into, and the stories’ wings were strong enough to carry one into daydreams on a leisurely afternoon, evening, or a laid-back weekend.