‘The Growing State’ by Vanessa Onwuemezi

I like it when I sense that I haven’t fully got my head around a story, that it contains some dormant quality still waiting to be found. I feel this way about Vanessa Onwuemezi’s first collection, Dark Neighbourhood; that it contains multitudes that I’ve not yet discovered. All of these stories seem to occupy some sort of wormhole-y relation to one another, a kind of dreamlike web threaded through with things that emerge periodically; moments of fear or realisation, names and vocations, heat and claustrophobia. I could realistically name any story from this collection, but this one was where I started to see what Onwuemezi was doing, and where the ambition of her vision became fully clear to me, while at the same time remaining gauzy and out of sight.

First published in Dark Neighbourhood, Fitzcarraldo, 2022

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