Short Story #36. Stickfighting Days (Olufemi Terry)

Deal Me In Reading Challenge: I drew the ace of spades.

Story: Stickfighting Days, by Olufemi Terry [in The Granta Book of the African Short Story]

Comments: This story won the 2010 Caine prize for African writing, one of the judges saying that Sierra Leone-born Terry “presents a heroic culture that is Homeric in its scale and conception” (from the Guardian).  It describes the fighting exploits of some boys who live on a dump and scavenge for a living.  It is a story of violence, which initially is controlled by certain implicit – and explicit – rules, but which at the end gets out of control and leads to death.  I don’t enjoy reading about violence, and had to push myself to finish this story.  I found it hard to feel any sympathy for Raul, the protagonist, and one important scene, in which he offers an apology to an opponent for certain tactics he had used in a fight, I found quite unconvincing. The apology seems to spring from values which have up to then not been identified in Raul, and which would be appropriate coming from an Eton or Harrow lad, “I say, old chap, awfully sorry about that…”  I really did not have a clear idea of who Raul is, or of why I should identify with him.


2 thoughts on “Short Story #36. Stickfighting Days (Olufemi Terry)

  1. Pingback: Deal Me In – Week 46 Wrap Up | Bibliophilopolis

  2. “A heroic culture that is Homeric in scale…” No writing could live up to that! 🙂 Sorry this one didn’t quite work for you. “Stickfighting” is a real thing, though, isn’t it?

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