‘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

‘At the Heart of Things’ by Vanessa Onwuemezi

One of Vanessa’s strengths are in the meticulous ways that she writes about the varying pressures upon us. There’s this great line, “The city demands a certain kind of contact only. It demands suspicions.” There are so many layers in her writing and she isn’t afraid to take risks. Her debut short story collection Dark Neighbourhood is about to be published in October 2021.

First published in The White Review and collected in Dark Neighbourhood, Fitzcarraldo Editions, 2021