Genre: African Fiction
Quick observation: Why do short story writers like to merge underwhelming stories with fantastic pieces especially in their anthologies? Is there like a standard word count? Does it necessarily have to be more than 100 pages before they are approved to be published? Because I don’t get it. Left to me, if I have 7 brilliant stories for instance, I would rather publish those 7 than 15 just to fill a vacuum. I would rather have a masterpiece than a ‘great’ book. Just like Jumpha Lahiri, this is probably my biggest issue with this book.
The Surrender is a short story collection of 15 STORIES which seeks to address the Nigerian woman’s struggle against age-long traditional beliefs and practices which discriminate against their sex. Given the current wave of the feminist movement. this is such a timely book and I’m glad I got to read it. It gave me some background knowledge of some of the complexities Nigerian women have had to contend with overtime. Frankly, I’m all for feminism and gender equality with this one but that doesn’t necessarily make me a feminist or a women’s rights activist. Just saying.
A quick background check on Mabel Segun shows that she’s a Writer, Poet, Lecturer and Broadcaster. A fellow of the International Youth Library in Munich, Germany who isn’t exactly renowned. She is pretty much just your regular author living a lowkey life faraway from the spotlight. Apparently, she was an ex-classmate of the late Chinua Achebe which sort of made them buddies.
The Surrender is a short, fast paced and vivid book with just the right dose of literary elements. It can be finished in one sitting even though I have a thing for dragging short books over a couple of days especially if it touched me in the right places. Book withdrawal is actually a thing.
Anyways, you can tell that she’s such a skilled short story writer. Some of the issues raised ranged from domestic violence to barrenness, suicide, poverty, hardships and so on. You’re guaranteed to feel an interplay of emotions from the first page to the last. As I mentioned earlier, the number of brilliant evoking stories were few and far between. The rest were just there to fill the blank pages. I needed the depth and tempo to be sustained throughout the book. I didn’t need to be underwhelmed on more than one occasion. I thought some of the stories were unnecessary and below par. Although, the book spans a writing period of 40 years, I wish she actually did more research and covered the major cultures in Nigeria. It would have been explosive. Notwithstanding, it is a good book so much that it won the 1954 National Festival of Arts Literature Prize. It definitely made an impression.