Since I founded the online literary journal AERODROME (thisisaerodrome.com) in 2013, our inbox has been deluged with short stories from all over Africa and beyond. Most of them – and frequently the best ones – come from Nigeria. I’m not sure how these writers find us – but I’m very thankful that they do: the West African nation is a literary powerhouse, currently producing some of the continent’s most vibrant and exciting writing – writing that’s often served up in short story form.
For time-pressed and attention-starved readers, a short story offers a brief and entertaining respite from reality, sucking up far less time than, say, a novel; and in many cases being available for free. For writers, it’s much less of a commitment to bash out a 4000-word story than to labour over a novel 20 times as long. The short story allows them to experiment, to capture snapshots or vignettes – and to hone their craft. Publication and prizes also offer exposure to potential publishers for bigger creative projects, as well as to new readers. In other words, short stories – while often sublime ends in themselves – are also a catalyst, the starting point of an author’s published oeuvre.