Nigerian writer Igoni Barrett’s new collection of stories is based in his home country, yet he speaks with a universal voice to the nature of the human heart, according to a review in The Africa Report.
Barrett’s collection of short stories is called “Love is Power, or Something Like That,” (Graywolf Press), and recounts yarns of love in all its forms. Capturing the catastrophic and occasionally humorous burdens of relationships, Barrett’s stories go beyond cultures, yet essentially remain Nigerian in his selection of setting and characters. In “Love is Power,” Barrett creates tales with an ominous sense of foreboding uncomfortably coupled with a bright ray of hope, constantly placing the reader on the edge of his seat.
Barrett, 34, won the BBC World Service Short Story Competition in 2005 for his compelling short story “The Phoenix,” which launched his writing career. It follows the life of Tartius Abrachius, who loses both his arms in a tribal ambush. Tartius eschews the predicable life of a beggar to instead become a tailor, wielding scissors and threading his sewing machine with his feet.
Longing to be published by a Nigerian publishing house, Barrett quickly realized the world at large was opening up to him when a U.S.-based publisher took him on. He continues to support smaller publishers, according to The Africa Report.
The son of Jamaican poet and novelist Lindsay Barrett, the younger Barrett has carved out his own unique niche as a writer. He initially refused formal training, opting to hone a style of his own instead. That decision paid off. The Critical Literature Review hailed Barrett as “a writer who has honed his skill carefully, executing his craft with an ease and mastery that can only be admired and…envied.”
Other works include “From Caves of Rotten Teeth,” published in 2005, and “When Rain Hits This City Already Floundering,” a short story published in Guernica Magazine in 2008. Future projects include plans to host book tours and readings along Africa’s coasts and a new story to be set in Lagos.