I read the 2010 Caine Prize-winning short story yesterday. “Gore” is the first word that came to my mind afterwards.

Olufemi Terry’s Stickfighting Days is a moving story that one never forgets in a hurry for its description of raw violence among (pubescent) boys in an imaginary dump site. I’ve read a few stories of raw violence that moved me. One of them was Fola by my friend Olumide Abimbola. It is a short family story with enormous prospects that I believe should be expanded to a standard short story length. It definitely comes to mind right now, but Terry’s offering takes us deep into an isolated world free of societal interference. There is no redemption at the end, just violence, and perhaps some jungle justice that must serve as the only catharsis afforded the reader.

Benson Eluma has written a review aimed at the insularity of the lives of the characters of the story. My friend’s observations in his review take the dialogue on literary craft and responsibility of the writer to a different direction and force us to ask a different kind of question. For me however, it is the stark violence without a chance for a real redemption that puts me off the story. It is not a deficiency as far as craft is concerned. The story is very well written and I don’t think I’ll be reading it again. Read the review on Nigerianstalk. You can read the story itself here.

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