cover image Caged Ocean Dub

Caged Ocean Dub

Dare Segun Falowo. Android, $19.99 trade paper (260p) ISBN 978-1-958121-27-6

Falowo’s transporting debut collection combines the fantastical, the spiritual, and the everyday to vivid effect. In 21 stories, all set in Nigeria, Falowo seamlessly merges Nigerian culture with elements of speculative fiction and fantasy. In “Kikelomo Ultrasheen,” for example, a girl learns how to braid hair from her salon-owning mother, only to grow up to discover she has been “chosen by Onidiri,” meaning she has the ability to bring about healing and destruction through her hands. Many of the stories deal with gender, examining the traditional domestic roles of women and inverting them such that these roles hold a sometimes dangerous amount of power. “October in Eran Riro” exemplifies this: its protagonist, October, has a mystical “olowosibi” in her hand that gives her great skill at cooking. It’s not until she gets a job at a fancy and frightening restaurant that she learns about the bloody sacrifice that makes her food so delicious. Though some of the more abstract tales, including “Sonskins” and “The Visions of Atanda Ekun,” prove difficult to interpret, readers will be content to let the poetic prose wash over them. Falowo is a writer to watch. Agent: Bleke van Aggelen, African Literary Agency. (June)