Dundee International Book Prize

Two weeks until the February 15th deadline for submitting your manuscript to this year’s Dundee International Book Prize. Curious about what floats their boat? Read last year’s shortlisted works:

DIB 2014

My manuscript Sea Never Dry, thick with crooked cops, fetish priests, Internet fraudsters, and orphans turning a buck off a West African e-waste dump, made last year’s cut. Read the excerpt below.

Now, back to work on this year’s effort, a pleasant little satire on the gun violence epidemic sweeping the U.S.A., outpacing even Ebola as a leading cause of death!

Sea Never Dry

goil

 

Chapter One

August 2010

Kerri tried making Africa just another continent, a forgotten place very far away.  But Africa would not let go.

First there were the Jamaican migrants who passed her father’s farm each warm summer dusk.  She sat on the porch, baseball on the radio, and watched those sons of Africa in broken footwear move up the road to the Extra Mart.  There they purchased Slim Jims and pints of rum to liven up the watery beer rationed by the screws at the Colbro brothers’ tobacco farm.  They needed the booze after broiling afternoons bending their backs beneath the tobacco nets, slave labor in brutal heat.  Their appearance each summer was a fact she’d grown up with.  Their continued presence was the only thing about Scarborough that hadn’t changed during her twenty months away.

Later came the call from Fitch, an opportunity to help Otoo and Patience start new lives out from under the clouds of violence, destitution, and sorrow that threatened their homeland.

And finally, today, the envelope by special courier, the offer from Bosche to return to Ghana.

The older aid workers had warned Kerri that adjusting to life back home would be more difficult than the initial adjustment to life abroad.  And Kerri’s readjustment carried an added burden: the stigma of her expulsion.  How bitter she felt, to be singled out for punishment by a country that had abandoned all restraint after the coup as the Masters of the new Republic settled grievances with those of the old.  What had she done that the U.S. government – and who knew which other governments – hadn’t also done?  How many families separated, father’s jailed, mothers and daughters sent to witches camps, thanks to foreign intervention?  How many arms hacked short?  Yet Kerri alone was renounced by her country, in a statement to the press:

      

EMBASSY STATEMENT

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The U.S. Embassy in Ghana is aware of reports that a U.S. national is being held under suspicion of drug trafficking and corrupting the morals of a minor.  While we encourage a justice system based on transparency, fairness, and a full investigation of the facts, we also reject criminal behavior of any kind, and we reject reports that tie the accused to the U.S. government.

The brevity of the statement served as a counterpoint to the gallons of ink the Ghanaian tabloids poured into her arrest.  Articles recounted testimony from her co-workers calling her a bad nurse, a harlot, a witch.  This last they proved by telling of the spells she uttered to save the lives of patients who later vomited toads, grew warts on their tongues, and faded into black death.  The tabloids revived Alma’s story, emphasizing Kerri’s connection to the murdered street orphan who dared rise above her station.  Worse than these slanders, the ever-present photos of Otoo Ofori, beaten, starved, washed out by photo flash, eyes big with fear.

Read on

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