Emerging Indie Authors
UNOMA AZUAH—“Edible Bones”
Emerging Indie Author:
Demarche Publishing (Jan. 2013)
Kaito works as a security guard at the American Embassy in Lagos. He deals with hundreds of hopeful Nigerian visa applicants, daily. Barely a third of the crowds, who line up outside of the embassy before dawn each day, will actually be called to the service desk, and of those, most are told, “Denied!” Kaito, however, gets lucky; his application for a visitor’s visa is approved. He departs for the US, eager to fulfill the American dream of his imagination, where every house is a castle and every American life replete with luxurious cars, designer clothes, and widescreen TVs. Edible Bones follows his journey as an undocumented African immigrant in an unwelcoming American urban square and chronicles the distance between his grand expectations and his ensuing formidable fate.
“Edible Bones casts a cold eye on the life of African immigrants in the U.S. The economic and political realities of living in the American underclass have been well documented, but usually in ways that suggest that the core human values of working-class culture – love, trust, and solidarity – can either triumph somehow over injustice or at least provide some consolation for it. Edible Bones provides no such escape route. The characters’ relationships seem as mercenary and hollow as the world outside. Readers will have a hard time deciding whether to like or dislike Kaito, whether to sympathize with him or despise him, and, at the end of the novel, whether to wish him well or wish him good riddance. Edible Bones is an unrelenting, though often very funny, anatomy of a world so consumed by the struggle for money, luxury, and status that no alternative seems possible anymore.”—John McAllister: Professor of Literature, Gaborone, Botswana.
“Edible Bones narrates the suffering of Nigerians whose successes are moored to the America dream. However, unusually, Edible Bones combines the usual with the rarely told. There are the immigrant issues, the gay syndrome, the psyche of the American culture, the hypocrisy of the American system, the beauty and ugliness of African communality and the coldness of modern life; all which add a refreshing twist to the narrative. Kaito’s encounters become the folder of other stories, stories that come to define the value of an immigrant life. Subtly, though more brilliantly, the tales of two different worlds are bared. Nigeria may be a home of wants; America is [not] a land of easy coins. With its simplicity of plot, naturalness of characterization and smoothness of descriptiveness, Edible Bones worked my reading appetite.”—Joseph Omotayo: Literary journalist, Lagos, Nigeria.
Unoma Nguemo Azuah was born in Ogwashi-Ukwu, Delta state, Nigeria to a Tiv father from Ukan in Ushongo local government area of Benue state and to an Igbo mother from Asaba, in Delta state.
As an undergraduate at Nsukka, she edited the English department literary journal—The Muse and received the awards of the best Creative Writing student for two consecutives years: 1992 and 1993. Her other awards include the Hellman/Hammett award, the Urban Spectrum award,the Leonard Trawick award and the Association of Nigerian Authors/NDDC Flora Nwapa award for her debut novel Sky-high Flames.
Her collection of short stories,“The Length of Light,” reflects the predicament of everyday choices in life. The enigmatic gap between ordinary people and their dreams is dramatized in scenes that reveal severed roots, patriarchal intrusions, socio-economic impositions, inhuman cultural values, and hostility. Yet the redeeming qualities of each character give hope and faith as they hold on to their insurmountable will to survive. In their diverse themes and tenors, the narratives demonstrate a critical examination of a world in which most people, against their wishes, are chosen by the paths they follow. For instance, Soka, in the story Idu, is on the other hand, haunted by a cultural belief she dismisses: she encounters the very mythical story she rebuffs, and in the process, history becomes her story.
Unoma has conducted writing workshops and seminars in some major cities in Nigeria and the US. For instance, she has conducted writing workshops for incarcerated mothers and women in prison as a way of creating outlets for their expressions. Part of her focus in such workshops is to assist women in channeling their energy into literary expressions as a way of freeing their spirits in spite of their physical imprisonment.
She is also involved with “The Griot Collective,” a poetry group that organizes workshops and readings for adults and high school students in the West Tennessee area. Her contributions to this group earned her the “Griot Hero” award in 2006. In the same year, she received “The Best Faculty,” award at Lane College for her outstanding teaching, research and service to the College community.
One of Unoma’s projects has been to explore the political disillusionment suffered by Africans due to corrupt government and their subsequent urge to migrate to the west even when they face alienation and homesickness. These themes are the focus of a poetry anthology called “On Broken Wings,” which she recently edited. Some of her affiliations include the International Resource Network (IRN Africa), a research and network group that focus on sexuality issues in Africa of which she is a board member; co-editor: Sentinel Annual Literature Anthology; co-editor “Outliers” a creative writing and scholarly journal about sexual minority issues in Africa; and Poetry editor of Sentinelnigeria.org. She is also the faculty sponsor of the Delta Sigma Tau: English Honors Society at Lane College.
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