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Because Home is...

by Chioma Nnani

Rating: ***

Because Home is… is a novella of four short stories that deal with the theme of home; returning, leaving and living in, set against the backdrop of Nigerian societal values and community.

Because Home is… is a nicely readable collection that touches upon some wider issues than first appear. The first and titular story was, personally, the strongest and I felt there were definite elements of autobiography present which made the story intriguing.

Despite Cassandra’s current settled life, the reader is made aware through backstory, of the frankly horrendous behaviour of her family toward her throughout her life. This is relayed in a measured, almost matter-of-fact way which makes it all the more awful and her, as a narrator, all the more admirable.

The second story, 25 to life, brings in religion as well as family concerns and has a poignant, almost fatalistic tone although it does lose a touch of focus.

Lockdown is slightly different and takes an altogether darker path than the other stories. The central character is male and the subject matter is pretty unpleasant, dealing with misogyny and mental health. This could certainly form the basis of a longer piece.

The last tale, The One, was thought-provoking and interesting in its discussion of Nigerian cultural expectations and prejudices, which I found completely eye-opening.

In places, the voices in these stories require a little stronger individualism, but Ms Nnani has a gentle, flowing style to her writing which makes it effortless to read. Overall, I really enjoyed reading Because Home is… the stories are something a little different, and the prose is assured making the book well worth a read.

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