E.C. Osondu second story collection, This House is Not For Sale is a collection of short stories surrounding the residents of the Family House. It is a slim volume that packs a punch, provoking thoughts about the nature of truth and story. Characters and events take on a mythic quality as they are related by the unnamed, unidentified narrator.
Set in what I assume must be the author’s birth country, Nigeria, during a time that seems to be the 1970s, the stories have the timeless quality reflective of folk tales. While grounded in real events, each tale features a dash of magic. Witches, curses and spirits influence events. Osondu lays a delicate thread of doubt through the narrator’s tone. The narrator describes what people have said and what he has seen, but one is never quite sure if the narrator truly believes what he is saying. This is subtly done, and allows the reader to believe what they choose.
Several characters recur in the stories, but the one unifying presence is that of “Grandfather”. At once magnanimous and forbidding, Grandfather is the patriarch of the Family House. It is to him many of the characters in the stories must turn for a resolution to their problems. Grandfather is never seen directly, but his power is indisputable. In this way he takes on the nature of a spirit or a god himself.
This House is Not for Sale is an interesting read that could comfortably be finished in an afternoon or two. It is well worth examining.