Dark Neighbourhood — Vanessa Onwuemezi

My very lovely partner got me a Fitzcarraldo Editions subscription for my birthday, of which this is the first instalment. I was first compelled to buy a Fitzcarraldo book last year as the beautiful covers caught my eye and I was drawn in further by what I read on the back cover. I’ve since become a huge fan — I love that they expose me to authors I wouldn’t have heard of and exciting, innovative writing.

Dark Neighbourhood is a great example of this. It’s the first collection of short stories by poet Vanessa Onwuemezi. They are fantastical, experimental and, yes, dark. From many different perspectives, they explore loss, shame and fear — from the woman who has abandoned her baby to the man who holds a boy dying of stab wounds in his arms.

I enjoyed Onwuemezi’s innovative style of the large part, though sometimes found her poetic prose took me too far away from the scene. But, even if I sometimes fell on the side of misunderstanding, I also enjoyed how she pushes at that boundary. And there are lots of marvellous and magical images along the way.

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