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Caine Prize Fiction Friday: “Foreign Aid” by Pede Hollist

So the Path Does Not DiePede Hollist is the only Sierra Leonean writer on the shortlist for the 2013 Caine Prize for African Writing. Hollist’s story “Foreign Aid” is up against the shortlisted works of four Nigerian writers, Tope Folarin, Elnathan John, Abubakar Adam Ibrahim and Chinelo Okparanta.

The winner of the £10 000 prize will be announced on 8 July. While we wait for the result to be revealed, Books LIVE is publishing each of the shortlisted stories. We’ve already brought you “Bayan Layi” by Elnathan John and “Miracle” by Tope Folarin. Today, delve into Hollist’s offering, “Foreign Aid”, which first appeared in the Journal of Progressive Human Services Vol. 23.3.

In this story, Balogun immigrates to the US where he becomes utterly Americanised. The narrative traces his return to Sierra Leone and the sense of dislocation he experiences:

Balogun arrived in America as a wiry-thin young man in his mid twenties, toting one small suitcase and brimful of hope of becoming an economist. At first, he lived with a cousin and his African American wife, a nurse, and her teenage sister, in a three-bedroom condo in Baltimore, Maryland. “Till he gets on his feet, Babe,” the cousin had assured his wife. Twelve months later Balogun had become the focus of her irritation: “He’s eating too much and spending the money he should be saving to get his own place on booze and women.” One morning, after a hectic night’s shift, the wife found Balogun in bed with her teenage sister.

That evening, the cousin drove Balogun and his suitcase to the innercity apartment of a former girlfriend. “Marry her, get your green card, and live the American dream,” the cousin encouraged. With the eagerness of an only child on his first day of boarding school, Balogun disappeared into the gray, half-boarded apartment complex behind the chain-link fence and submerged himself in inner-city America. He flipped burgers, cleaned office buildings, and worked security for cantankerous residents in a variety of elder-care facilities—pursuing the American dream, unskilled, undocumented, and with an accent. On holidays and birthdays, Balogun called home using those multicolored international phone cards that advertised more talk time than they delivered. His conversations were short, mostly filled with promises – to his mother that he would take care of himself and not marry a White woman; to his father that he would focus on his studies; and to his sister, Ayo, that he would one day bring her to America. But inner-city America overwhelmed Balogun. Even his occasional phone calls home stopped.

African VioletTo See the Mountain and Other StoriesA Life in Full and Other Stories10 Years of the Caine Prize for African WritingWork in Progress and Other StoriesJambula Tree and Other StoriesJungfrau and Other Stories

Book details

  • A Life in Full and Other Stories: The Caine Prize for African Writing 2010 by The Caine Prize for African Writing
    EAN: 9781906523374
    Find this book with BOOK Finder!

Image courtesy University of Tampa


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