Anthology Review: Kabu-Kabu by Nnedi Okorafor

Kabu KabuKabu Kabu by Nnedi Okorafor
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This anthology is a collection of short mostly speculative stories with tinges of sci-fi, fantasy, folktale and the supernatural. A few come from the same world in which a few individuals have the ability to fly. These are excerpts from the author’s unpublished novel. Many fall short of feeling fully developed, resting instead at vignette status. None stand far above or below the rest.

One commonality throughout the collection is Nigeria as a background, often with American narrators. The uneasy pairing of Nigerian and American interests and values is the greatest strength to the anthology.

I rated and reviewed all of the component short stories to this collection:
     “Asunder”–4 stars
     “The Baboon War”–3 stars
     “Bakasi Man”–3 stars
     “Biafra”–2 stars
     “The Black Stain”–2 stars
     “The Carpet”–2 stars
     “The Ghastly Bird”–2 stars
     “The House of Deformities”–3 stars
     “How Inyang Got Her Wings”–3 stars
     “Icon”–3 stars
     [w/ Alan Dean Foster]–“Kabu Kabu”–2 stars
     “Long Juju Man”–2 stars
     “The Magical Negro”–2 stars
     “Moom!”–2 stars
     “On the Road”–2 stars
     “The Palm Tree Bandit”–3 stars
     “The Popular Mechanic”–2 stars
     “Spider the Artist”–4 stars
     “Tumaki”–3 stars
     “The Winds of Harmattan”–2 stars
     “Windseekers”–2 stars

Also by this author, I’ve previously read:
     “Hello, Moto”–2 stars
     Binti [Binti, #1]–4 stars
 
 
 
[Check out my other reviews here.]

Short Story Review: “The Palm Tree Bandit” by Nnedi Okorafor

3 of 5 stars.

This very short tale reflects the familial tales told within families about particular ancestors. A young girl is told this tale about her great-grandmother, “Yaya,” while getting her hair braided by her grandmother [or mother]. It comes across as a girl-power, folk tale.

Yaya lived in a village with a strong gender divide in what was allowed. Especially banned for women was the climbing and tapping of palm trees since palm tree sap is an intoxicant. Yaya felt less constrained by the rules and defied the ban in a toyful manner making the male leaders into fools. Slowly, the gender constraint slides away as others carry on the playful defiance throughout the village and on into neighboring ones.

This tale appears in Okorafor’s anthology, Kabu Kabu by Prime Books.
 
 
 
[Check out my other reviews here.]

Short Story Review: “Moom!” by Nnedi Okorafor

2 of 5 stars.

This very short vignette reads like a modern animal folk tale. A swordfish, after attacking an underwater oil pipe, earns the right to be transformed into a larger, more dangerous being. In its words–a monster.

Due to the animal POV not being overly anthropromorhphized, little in the way of plot and motivation is explained. The epilogue tag attempts to tie the tale to actual recent history events, but remains disjointed from the tale.

This tale appears in Okorafor’s anthology, Kabu Kabu by Prime Books.
 
 
 
[Check out my other reviews here.]

Short Story Review: “Asunder” by Nnedi Okorafor

4 of 5 stars.

This short, interesting “love story” [as defined by the author] emerges from the remnants of a scrapped novel. I would label the tale, a modern folk tale. The quizzical use of the second-person POV is explained by the tale’s relationship to the characters of the discarded novel.

A boy and girl meet and instantly fall in love, a very true love. Six years later, they marry–never leaving each other’s side. They consider themselves One. Everybody considers them One. Even their families note the loss of their respective children for the sake of this One-ness. The two spend so much time so close to each other that they grow together literally with their hair weaving together into inseparable locks.

It takes the couple 4 more years to consummate the marriage and they only grow closer yet. Until, she becomes pregnant. . .

I really like that this tale turns the normal theme of a child representing the one-ness of a couple on its head by being the divider. It’s the unevenness of pregnancy that shows there was never One-ness to begin with–it was all well-meaning illusion. The couple must be separated [from their common locks] to redefine their love.

In short, the tale is lovely.

This tale appears in Okorafor’s anthology, Kabu Kabu by Prime Books.
 
 
 
[Check out my other reviews here.]

Short Story Review: “The Baboon War” by Nnedi Okorafor

3 of 5 stars.

This tale plays out like a modern folk tale without an ending nor explanation.

The narrator, while busy helping her father with the family’s fishing business, has largely neglected the comings and goings of her younger school-aged sister. One day, her sister arrives home battered, bleeding and beaming.

The younger sister’s tale emerges of her personal 10-day war with a troop of baboons in the forest blocking her directest route to school. Supernatural overtones exist in the presence of the girl’s homemade bracelet created from found bells, unexplained rainbursts, and the baboons’ presentation of a throbbing enigmatic idol after 10 days of hostilities.

This tale appears in Okorafor’s anthology, Kabu Kabu by Prime Books.
 
 
 
[Check out my other reviews here.]

Short Story Review: “The Carpet” by Nnedi Okorafor

2 of 5 stars.

Many folktales include an object with mysterious or mystical properties, be it a mirror or piece of jewelry or abandoned lamp in the Arabian desert. Said object may contain echoes of its own past or act as a portal for a character-building adventure. This tale hints at and then fails to deliver on a modern version of this style of folktale. Using a colloquial voice, the teen-aged narrator and her sister, older by a year, experience something outside of “normal” after purchasing a carpet at market. Despite the obvious elements of fantastical, the tone is fictional realism.

The sisters head from America to Nigeria without their parents for the first time. Despite having been to the country many times before, cultural differences rub up against them as they need to navigate the vacation without adult help. They purchase a carpet in the big city before heading 8 hours into remote parts of the country to stay at their family home in their father’s village. Upon arrival, they are disturbed to find out that their kindly neighbors and cousins had stripped the house of all their possessions while they were away. Also, spiders, geckos and other unknown creatures had taken up residence inside the house.

Locked in a nearly bare room with only a single borrowed bed, the girls hear disturbing noises in the house throughout the night . . .

This tale appears in Okorafor’s anthology, Kabu Kabu by Prime Books.
 
 
 
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Short Story Review: “Long Juju Man” by Nnedi Okorafor

2 of 5 stars.

Supernatural ghosts and tricksters exist for many cultures. The tricksters often match wits with their victims, doling out humorous to vindictive comeuppance.

In this folktale-style vignette, a narrator relates her childhood run in with the trickster ghost of the village’s former sorcerer. As a 9 y.o. girl on a mission to deliver a basket of eggs to her aunt, the narrator holds her ground in a stand off with the ghost of the Long Juju Man. The stakes are the basket of eggs . . .

This tale appears in Okorafor’s anthology, Kabu Kabu by Prime Books.
 
 
 
[Check out my other reviews here.]