A Broken People’s Playlist is a collection of short stories with underlying themes so beautifully woven that each story flows into the other seamlessly. From its poignant beginning in “Lost Stars” a story about love and its fleeting, transient nature to the gritty, raw musical prose encapsulated in “In The City”, a tale of survival set in the alleyways of the waterside. A Broken People’s Playlist is a mosaic of stories about living, loving, and hurting through very familiar sounds, in very familiar ways, and finding healing in the most unlikely places.
The stories are also part-homage and part-love letter to Port Harcourt (the city which most of them are set in). The prose is distinctive as it is concise and unapologetically Nigerian. And because the collection is infused with the magic of evocative storytelling, everyone is promised a story, a character, to move or haunt them.
I don’t think I’ve ever said this about a book, but this one is Gold on Paper. This is the best collection of short stories I’ve read so far. You’ll laugh, cry, laugh again, and cry again. I love creative writing and unique ideas, and in this case, the author writes stories inspired by music and most of them have music as an integral part of the plot.
There are 12 stories in the book, and I cannot tell which is my favourite as they are all fantastic, though my least favourite was “Beautiful War” because it ended too abruptly for me, bordering on incomplete.
Each story transports you to a different time and place, and you imagine yourself in every setting with other characters, listening in on the main characters. I think I’m in love. I’ve had this book for over a year and I’m glad I got to read it now. Once you start, you can’t stop until the last page.
Congrats Chimeka, congrats Othuke... to literature and to fine writing.
In every book, I always have a favourite line. It was difficult to pick from this collection, but I got one from a tragic story titled “In the City” and written under the influence of a song with the same title by Brymo, who I also love.
A policeman was running after a drug peddler who disappeared into thin air, so instead of returning with empty hands to his boss, he arrests another boy who was going to celebrate getting a new job with his lover. His boss says, “This is not the boy na.” The policeman responds, “I know, sir. Sometime you set trap for elephant but it catch antelope.”
After searching the boy, they discover only 450 Naira on him. The boss concludes, “This is not antelope. This na lizard.” I almost dropped laughing.
An amazing read.
5 GOLDEN STARS