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Fiction Friday: “How About the Children” by Yewande Omotoso

Bom BoyThis Friday, we invite you to sit back and enjoy a new short story by award-winning writer and Books LIVE member Yewande Omotoso.

Omotoso’s debut novel, Boy Boy, won a South African Literary Award (SALA) last year and was shortlisted for the 2012 Sunday Times Fiction Prize. She recently wrote a new short story, titled “How About the Children”, for The Kalahari Review.

Read the story in which we are introduced to Muriel, who runs a bookshop in Grandville and has to contend with community’s gossiping:

Muriel knew people talked about her. They didn’t like her. Said she ate her own babies, that’s why she was alone. Muriel heard the gossip, the things that were whispered. News got around easy amongst the business owners on Grandville Drive, all anyone had to do was go to Hazel’s and spend thirty minutes getting a blow dry or a perm and the news would become viral.

Muriel heard a screech of brakes and horns going, she stretched from her seat behind the counter and looked out the window, cars sped past. It was always busy on Grandville, that’s why the businesses stayed, decades on. The Laundromat next door, for instance, had come through many generations and little Harry, he wasn’t so little any more, was convinced he’d hand it over to his daughter and she’d continue the family business. Muriel snorted, good luck getting any of the kids these days to show any sign of common sense, the kind of sense required to run a business. Running their mouths is all they did, yack yack yack. Muriel snorted again, she was the only one in her bookshop so she could make whatever noises she pleased. Despite the bustle that went by, few people came into the bookshop these days, maybe that’s why all the gossip. About crazy Muriel, Muriel the witch, going blind in one eye and walking with a stick that became a crow that became a broom after midnight. She sucked her teeth and continued packaging books. Most of her customers these days were her age and older, bed-ridden, phoning in orders for the new books or revised collections of their favourite authors. Muriel spent most of her time wrapping parcels. It didn’t make business sense anymore but it was something to do and she felt closer to Jamal when she was with the books. He’d died between stacks D and E, carrying a Hemingway and two African poetry collections. He’d died with a thump. The doctors said natural causes, old age. His heart stopped.

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