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Nudibranch Reviews

Nudibranch by Irenosen Okojie


Irenosen Okojie

Score pending

2 reviews

Imprint: Dialogue Books
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Publication date: 7 Nov 2019
ISBN: 9780349701547

A dark and lyrical collection of short stories from the author of the critically acclaimed Speak Gigantular and Butterfly Fish, whose unique voice has been praised by writers like Ben Okri and Stella Duffy.

4 stars out of 5
Zoë Apostolides
20 Dec 2019

"This is writing at its most vital: poignant, performative and disturbing."

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Though Okojie usually leaves enough unsaid for personal interpretation, on occasion there’s a tendency to tell rather than show — “Couldn’t somebody see that she disappeared into Grace Jones because the pain . . . of being herself was unbearable?” Some stories, like “Mangata” — which follows an architect returning to his home town in northern Mozambique, determined to install a series of water fountains — would be better if they were longer, allowed to fully capture an atmosphere. Nonetheless there’s an irresistible lure to these disparate, experimental works reminiscent of Carmen Maria Machado, Kristen Roupenian or the gothic magic of Isabel Allende. This is writing at its most vital: poignant, performative and disturbing.


3 stars out of 5
5 Dec 2019

"An extraordinary collection of surreal tales takes in time travel, molluscs and monks"

In other stories we find “cavernous caves”, “generic, non-specific advice”; “a small smattering”. The occasional tautology is hardly unforgivable, but these are emblematic of an unfinished quality that mars parts of this collection. Okojie displays a poet’s verve for creating unusual combinations of words, but sometimes they, and these stories, are some distance away from their final and most effective iterations. That is frustrating, because, like the nudibranch molluscs of the title story, her work is also notable for its “extraordinary colours and striking forms”.