“Ghostroots” by ’Pemi Aguda: — magic and mayhem on the streets of Lagos


Unveiling Lagos through Supernatural Narratives**

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’Pemi Aguda’s latest work, “Ghostroots”, casts an eerie yet captivating light on Lagos, painting a city ensnared by both magic and malevolence. A Nigerian-American novelist who graduated from the University of Michigan’s prestigious writers’ program, Aguda delves into a world where supernatural forces intermingle with the harsh realities of crime, corruption, and poverty.

In “Ghostroots”, these unexplained powers wield dual roles of benevolence and malevolence, sometimes simultaneously. They manifest as messengers of divine retribution or bearers of devastating consequences. Yet, amidst the chaos of frequent power cuts, pervasive masculinity, and the influence of Pentecostal ministers preaching salvation, these supernatural entities seem like natural extensions of an environment in perpetual disarray.

The collection opens with “Manifest”, thrusting readers into the visceral daily life of Lagos through the eyes of an unnamed young woman. Headlines scream of gruesome acts—a lover’s dismemberment, a father’s fatal rage against his daughter—painting a bleak portrait of home as a place devoid of safety. The protagonist’s own descent into malicious deeds, like flooding a bathroom or killing a friend’s puppy, fuels her fear of inheriting the wickedness of her long-dead grandmother.

Aguda’s narratives dissect Lagos as a stifling ecosystem defined by fleeting schemes, meager wages, and women grappling with the burdens of child-rearing. “Breastmilk” poignantly explores a mother’s conflicted emotions about raising a son in a world where masculinity itself poses a threat. Themes of family dynamics pervade the stories, revealing familial ties as often more problematic than redemptive.

Literary echoes resound throughout “Ghostroots”, drawing from the speculative weird fiction tradition of MR James and Angela Carter’s contemporary fairy tales. In “The Hollow”, Aguda channels Stephen King with a cryptic tale of an architect confronting a house that defies architectural logic, its secrets stemming from a history of domestic abuse.

Aguda’s prose captures the essence of Lagos—the rhythmic cadence of Nigerian Pidgin, the visceral realities of cramped living spaces, and the pungent aromas that permeate everyday life. Amidst the grime and sweat, she conjures glimpses of hope through paranormal interventions, like the ghost market teeming with vibrant colors and bustling commerce at dusk.

“Ghostroots” emerges as a masterful blend of social critique, feminist discourse, structural innovation, and grotesque gothic twists, redefining the boundaries of African storytelling with its unique brand of uncanny fiction.

**Source:** Financial Times

By Naija247news
By Naija247newshttps://www.naija247news.com/
Naija247news is an investigative news platform that tracks news on Nigerian Economy, Business, Politics, Financial and Africa and Global Economy.

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