Posted on Thursday, 06 June 2013 13:53

Igoni Barrett's Love is power or something Like that and other stories

By Billie Adwoa McTernan

Igoni Barrett - Nigerian author/Photo©ALL RIGHTS RESERVEDBarrett's new collection of stories is based in Nigeria but speaks to the conditions of the human heart, wherever it may be found.

Igoni Barrett's newest work, a collection of short stories called Love is Power, or Something Like That (Graywolf Press) tells tales of love in all its maddening, humorous and sincerest disguises.

Capturing the often tragic and sometimes comic afflictions of the human heart, Barrett's stories transcend cultures, yet remain quintessentially Nigerian in the choice of characters and setting.

"That is what makes me different to Gabriel García Márquez forexample," he says.

"I cannot write about Colombia the way he writes about Colombia. I know Nigeria and I have to use that as my selling point."

Barrett's professional writing career began when he won the BBC World Service Short Story Competition in 2005 for 'The Phoenix'.

Despite his determination to be published by a Nigerian publishing house, it was at that point that he saw that "the world opened up to me".

Though he laments the difficulties faced by the publishing industry in Nigeria, Barrett continues to champion small publishing houses, such as Farafina Books, which have dealt with the continuous threat of closure.

Having worked as managing editor of Farafina Magazine, Barrett became acquainted with and befriended many renowned contemporary writers including Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Binyavanga Wainaina.

Though he is the son of a writer – the Jamaican poet and novelist Lindsay Barrett – the younger Barrett's journey into writing was completely his own.

He initially refused formal training, preferring instead to hone his own style.

In Love is Power, Barrett weaves together a continued sense of foreboding and the odd signal of hope, whether it be the story of a dejected and broken family, the inexplicable love and fear a wife has for a husband or a young man trying to make money through love.

The reader is never quite sure of what will come next, making it an exhilarating and inspiring read.

Barrett has a few new projects in the pipeline, with plans to host book tours and readings on a yacht along the coasts of Africa.

"I hope to travel around Nigeria to get some ideas for my next book. I've just sold the rights to my novel, tentatively scheduled for publication in 2015."

Allhe can tell us for the moment is the story will be set in Lagos. ●

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