Hey people. March is pretty much over and it’s kinda bitter sweet for me. Sweet because I’m alive and healthy but bitter because I’ve been patiently waiting for something to come through for months and it’s getting frustrating. I started Dreams and assorted nightmares in February but finished it in March. It’s a collection of interconnected short stories.
Version of the book I read
I read the paperback which was gifted to me by masobebooks in exchange for a honest review.
“ Zango is both setting and specter for ‘Dreams and Assorted Nightmares’, a collection of interconnecting short stories which explore the spaces between life and death and beyond. There’s a poignant story of a special needs boy with prescience; another about the family of a philandering artist trying to pick up the pieces after his violent death….”
“ The stories feel mystical and dark. The palpable compassion with which they are written gives them warmth and light. Like rivulets, the stories easily flow into each other, aided by Ibrahim’s signature hyponotic writing and majestic prose. This is a collection to savour especially for its many enigmas— the silent poetry and tragedies of everyday life, the darkness and tenderness of the human mind, and the crossroads between dreams and the supernatural.”
I read the first story and wasn’t so sure where the book was headed but I sure was intrigued by the fictional town Zango. By the time I was done with the second story, I had this rush of excitement and couldn’t wait to read the third story and this was a good sign for me. I’d say the second story “Mororo’s masterpiece” kickstarted this book for me. I mentioned something on instagram about how the first story in a short story collection has to set the pace and should be one of the best stories in the book. I got that with the second story.
There’s something about short stories that are somewhat connected be it through the town they’re set in or the characters (siblings/parents/neighbor), these stories always feel wholesome. I think this is becoming quite common these days and I don’t mind at all. I liked that we get to see some characters feature in more than one story and we also get to see characters from other character’s POV.
Stories I loved
House of the rising sun shows how mental illnesses are viewed and the lesson here for me is to ask for help. You cannot do it alone.
Naznine broke me and I ended that story feeling so overwhelmed with emotions. Women go through a lot and it sucks that our body can still betray us. This story highlights the trauma and struggle of a woman dealing with repeated pregnancy loss.
I also really loved….
Mororo’s masterpiece, Daughters of Bappa Avenue, A very brief marriage (because I found it hilarious and I wanted it a little longer). I also really liked Melancoly and rushed through it partly because it was one of the three stories that gave me the supernatural bit I was looking forward to.
More thoughts on Dreams and assorted nightmares
The author did a fantastic job with developing the characters. How he was able to do that in short stories should be studied. The last story wrapped up the collection nicely by bringing the much needed connection between the stories and meaning to things that otherwise might’ve been overlooked and that was honestly the best story to end with. Although, Abubakar Adam Ibrahim left us hanging with the way the book ended, I didn’t mind it because it gave me an opportunity to make up my own ending.
The book kept getting better with each story better than the last. This is not a happy-feel-good book. This is a book that tells stories of people dealing with so much shit and most of the stories will leave you sad and emotional. Zango is a fictional town that is so intriguing you almost wish you can drive down to listen to the people of Zango tell their stories.
Loss, love, grief, family, and mental illnesses.
I gave this book 4.5 stars. I would definitely recommend this if you like short stories collections.
I’m so proud of Nigerian/African writers. I hope they find the strength to keep writing and pushing despite the struggles. I discussed this book on SmoothFM radio last week Saturday with the lovely Judith and It was amazing. Cheers to reading wonderful African books and stepping out of my comfort zone.