Woman, Eating by Claire Kohda

This is one of those novels that you can’t help but devour quickly. It makes you hungry to read more because you’re waiting for the starving vampire at its heart to end its fast.

Lyd is of mixed heritage – she has a Japanese father and a half-Malaysian mother, and, though she appears human and can wander outside in the day time if she’s thoroughly covered up and wearing sunglasses and sunscreen, she is a vampire. A vampire whose vampire mother lost her mind when she lost her vampire teeth. Lyd has put her mother in a home – even though said mother only looks like she’s in her mid-forties – so that she can pursue her life as an artist. But her mother was in charge of keeping her fed and Lyd doesn’t know how to find pig’s blood in the city…

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Dark Neighbourhood by Vanessa Onwuemezi

This collection of poetic stories settle about the mind in a swarm of emotion, feeling and altered consciousness. They have transformative qualities that shed newly refracted light upon our expectations and shift appearances and genres like costumes in a pageant.

I’d like to hear Vanessa Onwuemezi in conversation with Irenosen Okojie. Both writers twist and slip their pens across fresh uses of English that conjure frightening futures and contemporary reals we do our best to avoid seeing.

I think, for me, ‘Dark Neighbourhood’ – about people waiting in a long line to be let through a gate into a place where they imagine life will be good; a dark vision of today and the future – and ‘Green Afternoon’ – about a man from a wealthy neighbourhood who witnesses the death of a young boy on the back steps of his gated, communal garden – speak most to me. They are about the now and what will be and has been. They are both historic and prophetic. Vanessa Onwuemezi is an amazing writer.

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Peaces by Helen Oyeyemi

Otto and Xavier are going on a non-honeymoon on a train that is the home of the allusive magician Ava Kapoor. They are to enjoy the train ride but avoid Ava who will inherit millions only if she can pass a sanity test and must not be disturbed.

Of course they do speak to Ava and learn of the conditions of her inheritance and of her benefactor’s son, Prêm. Who is Prêm? Did he ever exist? Ava has never seen him despite others assuring her of his presence. Why could she not see him? What effect would being unseen, even if only by one person, have? Why did Ava, continue to play her theremin to an empty room, even if she did feel a presence there in the emptiness?

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