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Caine Prize Fiction Friday: “The Whispering Trees” by Abubakar Adam Ibrahim

The Whispering TreesAbubakar Adam Ibrahim’s short story “The Whispering Trees”, from his collection with the same title, has been shortlisted for the 2013 Caine Prize for African Writing. Ibrahim is competing against fellow Nigerians Elnathan John, Tope Folarin, and Chinelo Okparanta, as well as Pede Hollist from Sierra Leone, for the £10 000 prize.

While we await the announcement of the winner on 8 July, Books LIVE is publishing each of the shortlisted stories. We’ve already brought you “Bayan Layi” by Elnathan John, “Miracle” by Tope Folarin, and “Foreign Aid” by Pede Hollist. Today, read Ibrahim’s short story “The Whispering Trees” in which the narrator is speaking from beyond the grave:

It’s strange how things are on the other side of death. I fear I am incapable of describing the experience to you because I do not know what words to use. One simply has to die to understand the enigma of death.

I did not wake up in heaven as I had anticipated (for I certainly had not thought I was bound for hell, even though I had not been a saint). Instead, I woke up in a huge, seemingly infinite universe of darkness. I sensed nothing except that everything was hollow. I could discern nothing except being conscious, but, even then, I could not remember my name. The blandness of my mind frightened me to the point of screaming. My scream only echoed in the void, where it whipped itself into silence. Gradually, I reached the conclusion that my mind and my body were no longer the same entity. Then I lost consciousness again.

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