Magazine article New Internationalist

A Life Elsewhere

Magazine article New Internationalist

A Life Elsewhere

Article excerpt

A Life Elsewhere by Segun Afolabi (Jonathan Cape, ISBN 0 224 07602 7)

The idea of 'home' is fundamental to these stories by Nigerian writer Segun Afolabi. In 17 vignettes of exile and displacement, his characters share a dread of rootlessness and a yearning to connect with their surroundings; to belong. In a world where boundaries of distance and geography are being superseded by barriers of suspicion and mutual incomprehension, belonging is not an easy trick to pull off. When the home you fled from is a place of danger and the refuge you have reached is a cold, confusing place, rejection is more likely than solace.

Afolabi gives us glimpses of lives lived against the grain, of individuals striving to adapt but unsure of what is required. It is significant that we are seldom informed directly as to the setting; the location emerges from incidental detail. Whether it is Canada, Europe or Africa, we share with the characters the certainty that we are 'elsewhere'. …

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