Irenosen Okojie’s stories operate on a plane of reality that is both familiar and groundbreakingly new. She works in that zone of language where a body or a city or an island can be effortlessly conjured as real and solid in one moment, and in the next become vulnerable and facing complete transformation and destruction. I love the license she gives the reader to believe in impossible things without ever having to decide if there is some analogy waiting for them, or something to decode. The whole story is all you need.
In this story, extraordinary, gorgeous, violent beautiful spill out from an ordinary plan to return home. Sometimes within the space of a single sentence, these sudden changes to the world come at you, and they do not require further explanation or meaning. There is no safety in her work, if you want only to be reassured and told that certain truths cannot be changed. And why should you want that? My feeling when I first read this story was that I wanted to eat the Kookaburra Sweet as soon as possible, and let everything unravel as it sees fit. The story is also typical of Okojie’s generosity to other writers – she gives space to anyone looking for inspiration and routes into the unknown and impossible. Widely acknowledged as an inspirational figure in the business, and a generous friend to so many of us out here trying to write, stories like this confirm Irenosen Okojie as among the very best of us.
First published in Nudibranch, Dialogue, 2019