Crude Fictions: How New Nigerian Short Stories Sabotage Big Oil’s Master Narrative

Helen Kapstein


New Nigerian short stories, more easily available to readers than ever before, call into question the dominant discourse around oil production nationally and internationally as they depict the complex, lived reality of a resource-rich country riven by corruption, greed, and poverty. The struggle over oil resources and rights regularly involves acts of sabotage and because of their content, their form, and their distribution, the stories themselves can be considered as small acts of sabotage. The stories’ formal qualities - or lack thereof - reflect the circumstances of their production as a tertiary by-product of sabotage. Like the material by-product, the crude oil to be distributed as part of an informal economy, these stories are unrefined. This textual output, like that commodity form, is more quickly available, less constrained by production, less costly for being raw or unprocessed, and more willfully destructive of disciplinary institutions, corporate, national, and literary.


oil, Nigeria, Africa, genre, short story

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