News from Home
published 2010 • 5 ¼” x 8” • 293 pages
ISBN 9781566568036 • paperback • $15.00 •
"Atta (Everything Good Will Come) demonstrates a fresh, vital voice in these 11 stories that move fluidly between pampered Nigerian émigrés and villagers grinding out a meager subsistence. Atta's characters are irrepressible, beginning with Makinde in "The Miracle Worker," an honest Lagotian mechanic who charges admission to view the vision his born-again Christian wife claims to have seen in a dusty windscreen in his car lot. He foolishly loses the money and is harshly humbled--to his wife's great satisfaction. The Muslim wife in the chilling "Hailstones on Zamfara"--having been married at 14, excluded from school, and now rendered near-deaf by her drunken husband's beatings--finds a short-lived sense of vindication following her husband taking another wife. Elsewhere, Atta pursues how privileged Nigerians fare abroad, such as the young graduate in "A Temporary Position," who applies his irreverence for the law to his first job, and the New Jersey nanny in "News from Home," who is torn by loyalty and her desire to practice her profession as a nurse. Atta movingly portrays these conflicted lives and gorgeously renders a wide spectrum of humanity and experience."
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Winner of the 2009 NOMA Award for Publishing in Africa
From Zamfara up north to the Niger delta down south, with a finale in Lagos, this collection of stories and a novella respond to and amplify the newspaper headlines in a range of Nigerian voices. Men, women, and children speak out to us from these stories, from immigration centers and police barracks, from street corners and maternity wards. Ghanaian writer Mohammed Naseehu Ali says, Sefi Atta “writes like one who has lived the life of each single character in her dazzling collection of short stories.”
Sefi Atta was born in Lagos, Nigeria. She was educated there, in England and the United States. A former chartered accountant and CPA, she is a graduate of the creative writing program at Antioch University, Los Angeles. Her short stories have appeared in journals like Los Angeles Review and Mississipi Review and have won prizes from Zoetrope and Red Hen Press. Her radio plays have been broadcast by the BBC. She is the winner of PEN International's 2004/2005 David TK Wong Prize and in 2006, her debut novel Everything Good Will Come was awarded the Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa. She lives in Mississippi with her husband Gboyega Ransome-Kuti, a medical doctor, and their daughter, Temi. To learn more about Sefi Atta, vistit her website.
"Nigerian-born Atta’s prizewinning novel, 'Everything Good Will Come'... was about a young woman’s coming-of-age in Lagos. Now Atta lives in the U. S., and this powerful collection is about the search for home. ... Never messagey, the wrenching contemporary stories are universal in their appeal and impact. "
"Nigerian-born Atta compiles eleven of her short stories in this book focused on contemporary Nigeria and its displaced inhabitants. She brings a diverse, yet entirely believable, set of characters and settings to life in these richly textured stories. The Sunday Independent writes that ‘Atta's writing tugs at the heart, at the conscience.'"
-World Literature Today
"...be prepared for an intense look into contemporary Nigeria and its citizens, as well as a steady thrum of wrenching emotion that sneaks up on you the deeper into the collection you read."
"With this collection of stories, Soyinka Prize-winning author Sefi Atta consolidates her position as one of the leading writers of her generation. The stories, which take us from Zamfara to Mississippi, with many points in-between, are written with quiet virtuosity. Atta's control of tone is remarkable, especially given that she often takes on subjects-immigration, religion, domestic abuse-that in lesser hands tend to become polemical or preachy. What we get from Atta are compulsively readable tales, leavened with a sly wit and a generous vision."
—Teju Cole, author of Every Day is for the Thief
"Sefi Atta is a brilliant artist, who writes as if she knows her characters personally...great stories. I have been very touched by the beauty and diversity and depth of these stories."
—Uwem Akpan, author of Say You're One of Them
"The majesty of one woman's spirit provides the backdrop for the opening story: a tale of unrelenting domestic abuse, and institutionalized cruelty and injustice in the name of Sharia. A powerful beginning to a collection of stories structured around greater or lesser violations of God's law or Man's....Finally, after the darkness of the 'Lawless' stories, 'The Miracle Worker' was refreshing. At the story's end, the wife's response to her husband's financial ruin made me smile the 'I give up' smile: sometimes the wit of a story lies in the relentless logic of its ending."
"Sefi Atta's steady, quiet, and yet bold narrative voice is unwavering in its dedication to craft, originality, and last but not the least, truth. Truth, that is, in artistic rendition of our lives. (She) writes like one who has lived the life of each single character in her dazzling collection of short stories. The reader comes off with the sense of a story teller who is so in tune with the suffering and other life happenstances of her characters, that the reader is bound to find a commonality with them-be it cultural, psychological, social, or human.
—Mohammed Naseehu Ali, author of The Prophet of Zongo Street
"Atta provides the reader with a rich portrait of Nigerians of all backgrounds, in and outside of the country. The stories are unique to Nigeria and its people, yet the themes of assimilation, cultural isolation, and separation from family and friends have a broader application and appeal...I am looking forward to reading Atta's next book..."
“Much of Africa has been slower to join the world in the modern age, but it still blooms none the less. 'News from Home' is a collection of short stories from Sefi Atta, a Nigerian writer with much support from her contemporaries. Through her stories, she shows the condition of her people in an emerging society that has recently been granted the freedoms of the world and are stuck between modernization and the traditions of Nigeria. Thoughtful and insightful, 'News from Home' is a strong pick for any world fiction collection.”
—Midwest Book Review
"Sefi Atta, with her book of short stories, News From Home proves that learning doesn’t have to happen through real photos and newscasts; her characters, her language, and her attention to complex, subtle shifts in relationships make her book both a series of lessons about Nigeria and a lovely way to pass the time...Make no mistake—though Atta’s stories are often about people on the very fringes of luck, she does inject a sense of humor into her writing...While Atta’s stories are political ones, she does not force her characters into political positions that don’t come naturally. Every urge is organic, every demonstration is heartfelt. Readers notice first who she is writing about; later they notice why she is writing about them. Sharp, powerful language and authentic characters are her primary concerns and as a result her stories are rich and wonderful."
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