Short Story Month, Day 19: Akwaeke Emezi
I think I found this story through someone else's tweet about Short Story Month, and I'd never heard of Akwaeke Emezi, so I wanted to check it out. And oof. Wow. I mean…
This is probably not going to be everyone's cup of tea. I can think of a few readers I know who would not be cool with the contents of this story, and that's fine. This should be a story that makes a reader stop and feel uncomfortable, maybe even consider putting down and never picking back up. But you should, readers. You should absolutely finish this story, not in spite of how uncomfortable it can be but because of it. There is so much to explore here about gender and identify and familial love and confusion that I am certain I have missed some things and will need to read this again soon.
I don't want to give away too much about the story and risk anyone refusing to read it, but I do want to say this: I've written several times now about universality in stories. One nice thing about this one is that, despite the use of language and cultural touchstones (not to mention the italicized intro) providing ethnic context, this story can take place anywhere. There is no mention of city or country, and the details of the outside world are sparse, which reminds us that Kachi's feelings are not limited to an ethnicity or culture or nation. Anyone could be this child. Someone you know could be this child. You, reader, could be this child. And I hope that makes every reader want to be more compassionate and less judgmental.