‘Nudibranch’ by Irenosen Okojie

I had to include at least one story that had been selected for Best British Short Stories edited by Nicholas Royle. I’ve been reading the series since it had started, and over ten years or so it’s mapped the British short story scene wonderfully, and introduced me to lots of brilliant writers.

It was so great to be included in the 2020 alongside great stories by Luke Brown, Sarah Schofield and David Rose, but I wanted to include the Okojie because it’s so different from many of the other stories on my list. 

Told in the form of a myth it’s a story of transformation, of love, of sexual power, of desire. It’s intensely poetic, yet has details that ground it, even as it gets more and more dreamlike. The Goddess Kiru appears on a beach, and shape-shifts throughout the story, becoming the dream woman that each man she meets would want to meet. The story starts with the description of the “Nudibranch” – “soft-bodied, marine gastropod molluscs which shed their shell after their larvae stage… noted for their often extraordinary colours and striking forms.” 

Published in Nudibranch, Dialogue Books, 2019, and selected for Best British Short Stories 2020, Salt

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