‘Fairness’ by Chinelo Okparanta

Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of reading many great short stories by fellow Nigerian authors, including many that I read while serving as an editor on The Weaverbird Collection: New Fiction from Nigeria 2008. One of the most inspiring recent collections of short stories comes in the form of Okparanta’s stunning debut, Happiness Like Water. Okparanta writes lyrically with a keen eye for character and in her story, ‘Fairness’, two young women—one a house maid and the other the employer’s daughter—try bleaching their skin, with disastrous results. Shortly after this story was published, I had the privilege of being in conversation with Okparanta at the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco where she read beautifully from a section of this story.

Collected in Happiness Like Water, Mariner Books, 2013, and in The PEN/O Henry Prize Stories, 2014