Chigozie Obioma and the case for ‘audacious prose’


This week, Chigozie Obioma’s debut novel The Fishermen was short-listed for the Man Booker Prize. Obioma was already on my radar, first because I’d been hearing about the book, and then because I booked into a workshop he’s running at the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival next month. I booked into it so fast, it was like Quick Draw McGraw. I blew onto my credit card and re-holstered it, then soon after got an email advising me the time and date of my own book launch, at the festival.

Of course: the same day and with an overlapping time-frame to the Obioma workshop. I laughed. Of course.

I’m still going to the workshop, but will have to scoot out early, after explaining to him and the group and making my apologies. My fantasy: that he will say ‘I’ll pop in to your launch after this, see you there.’ I like audacity, and I like prose that hovers somewhere above mundane, but that is not laden with metaphor, but that sometimes spins up into a burst of, possibly, purplish hue. This workshop seems perfect for me and I hope to learn more about control, more about when to unleash something audacious word-wise, and also to learn more about why he thinks it’s important. Looking forward to it immensely. Plus, yesterday I bought the Best Sandals Ever.

Here is Obioma’s essay online, and if you are interested in an opposing view, make sure to click on the link held within, to read ‘B.R. Myers’s agitated fracking masquerading as “criticism”’ which is also a great read.

The Audacity of Prose


In terms of reading and the other Booker short-listed titles, I have Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life ready to go, after reading what Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest said, as well as Anna Smaill’s The Chimes (which was on the long list) because Tracy Farr said it was terrific. I’ve just finished Paul Dalgarno’s memoir And You May Find Yourself. More to come on that in another post but it’s an amazing read. Sad, depressing and relentless. Brilliant, moving, hopeful. Funny and smart. I recommend. I’m next going to finish Holding the Man, and I’ve stalled on the Franzen but will finish. Am about half way through so am invested but my reading like my brain is very scatty and distracted at the moment. I have one coffee meeting in 50 minutes down the street and then I’m done with the teaching biz for a few weeks. I have one phone interview for book tonight (the third for the week, I’m getting better!) and then my week is ‘done’.

EDIT: Just popping this link here for me to come back to later, after I’ve read The Fishermen. New Statesman article | Making myths: Chigozie Obioma’s The Fishermen

6 thoughts on “Chigozie Obioma and the case for ‘audacious prose’

  1. I read a free sample of “The Chimes” and was hooked! So original and intriguing. Interested in this idea of audacious prose – I loved the language in Ali Smith’s “How to be Both” and Eimer McBride’s “A Girl is a Half Formed Thing.” Are they audacious? And why isn’t there a photo of the sandals???

    1. I really like the idea of audacious prose, especially when there can be so little reading time in life. If possible I love to read authors who care about the words on the page beyond just conveying literal meaning. I also loved the Smith and the McBride – I think they were audacious, esp Girl. The prose was audacious and ambitious. For the Smith I think it was more the form that was audacious, with spiking bits of prose that popped out and were audacious.

      Sandals, I’ll take a pic & post once I’ve redone my toe nails. At the moment nails have very old black polish and look particularly crappy and wintry.

  2. Agree, The Chimes sounds interesting – how to pull off such a story without sound?!

    Hope you’re enjoying your book-related interviews, signings etc etc – The Secret Son still has a top position on the New Releases table at Readings in Carlton 🙂

    1. Ooh is that part of the form? Lack of sound. Am more intrigued. I am enjoying book-related post-launch things, but mostly not having to anticipate launch! Glad to get it over. And yes, really good to see the book around the traps, I’ve fielded about four pics from people at Melb Airport bookshops from travelling friends and family. And people have taken mine on hols. So far separate copies have gone to France, Turkey, north QLD, Vietnam and is also about to go to Chile on another trip. I find this all hard to believe.

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