Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

"Poached Eggs" - A Short Story by Farah Ahamed (short listed for the London Short Story Prize, 2016, Winner Gerald Karak Award)

"Poached Egg" is included in the 2016 London Short Story Prize, purchasable here

Farah Ahamed on The Reading Life - Includes Links to Four of Her Stories

The London Short Story Prize 2016 Highly Commended stories includes
Poached Eggs  by Farah Ahamed

AL Kennedy says:  “Poached Eggs by Farah Ahamed is a gently funny, delicately disturbing and utterly subversive piece which deftly links the domestic, the personal and the political.”

Irenosen Okojie says: “Poached Eggs is an absorbing, nuanced piece. A sneaky, humorous examination on the battle of the sexes. Sharp, intimate… This is well orchestrated storytelling that’s delightful and evocative.”

"Poached Eggs" is the fifth wonderful acutely knowing short story by Farah Ahamed I have so far had the pleasure of reading and posting upon.  Her stories concern, either directly or obliquely, the lives of women in a society which values female submissiveness, which treats wives as servants and for the affluent trophies.  Richer older men are expected to have mistresses as we saw in her delightful set in Nairobi "Dr Patel", her only included story without a central onstage female character.

"Poached Eggs" is contained in a just published anthology of works Short listed for the London Short Story Prize, it cannot as of today be read online.  (Happily her other four stories are available online.)
it focuses on a young recently married woman who met her husband while working as support staff in a government office in Nairobi.  They marry a few months after meeting.  Gradually her husband begins to subject her to more and more rigid rules on running the household.  When she tells him her old boss wants her back at work, he tells her if she returns to work, as she wishes, it will make it look like he cannot afford to take care of her.  She has two full time live in helpers.  Her husband gives her a list of duties, including strict rules about how he likes his eggs Poached.  He provides her with a calendar on which he has the days she will have her period marked.  He tells her he does not wish to sleep with her when she is "unclean".  Soon he gives her another calendar on which he marks the days he will "do his duty" with her in order to produce a child.  He tells her to contact his mother to find out how he likes his meals fixed.

Things keep getting worse and worse but Naru never rebels.  She even writes a hilarious guide for wives for the main newspaper.

I want to leave most of this story unspoiled.  I loved the very subtle ending.

"Poached Eggs" is a really lot of fun as well as a biting satire of life in contemporary Kenya, dissecting sexual roles imposed by society.  It will make you laugh and think and as a married man I pondered how long I would survive if I attempted to impose such rules on my wife!

Hopefully I will post upon another of Ahamed's stories in August.

Farah Ahamed is a short fiction writer. Her stories have been published in The Massachusetts Review, Thresholds, Kwani?, The Missing Slate and Out of Print among others. She was highly commended in the 2016 London Short Story Prize and has been nominated for The Caine and The Pushcart prizes. She was shortlisted for the SI Leeds Literary Prize, DNA/Out of Print Award, Sunderland Waterstones Award, Asian Writer Short Story Prize, Gerald Kraak Award and Strands International Short Story.

Mel u



I am looking forward to the day that Farah has a collection of her stories published. Can't be long, I feel, the stories are so good.

Suko said...

This story sounds fascinating, Mel. Excellent post!

Mel u said...

Rebecca Lloyd, I hope for this also. I fund her stories very intriguing.

Suko. Thanks as always for your comments. I hope you can find time to read them. One of the very best things about book blogging is reading writers at the start of their literary career.

Buried In Print said...

"It will make you laugh and think and as a married man I pondered how long I would survive if I attempted to impose such rules on my wife!"

Hahah. This sounds like a story I would enjoy, although I have always been distressed by the idea of eating eggs, from being a young girl and onwards. (Camouflaged in other foods, I can deal with them, but mostly do not these days.) A.L. Kennedy's description in particular makes me keen to try this one! (As well as your review, of course!)

Anonymous said...

Thanks Becca- so lovely of you. I too hope the same!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Mel for blogging my stories and the post. Thanks Suko- I hope you'll get a chance to read my story! Best wishes Farah

Anonymous said...

Thank you Buried in Print. Eating raw eggs in this story is a political act, one I hope you won't have to resort to!