Paperworth Books has released a collection short stories by Paul Ugbede.
The fast-rising playwright is coming out with a work of prose fiction for the first time.
Ugbede is widely acknowledged as the dramatist who won the inaugural award of the BEETA Playwright competition, in 2016, with the uproariously funny play: Our Son the Minister.
Some of the close to two dozen plays he has penned include Fela Arrest the Music, Gula! (An Adaptation of President Olusegun Obasanjo’s Prison Book), Bending and Bonding, Unucha the Musical, August Meeting, Patches the Musical, Legends the Musical, Moremi the Musical and OMG the Musical.
Ugbede’s debut prose collection, Piece & Pieces, which is coming out exactly four years after the ceremony of his BEETA Playwright award, addresses a breath of human, social and political concerns. In one story, a young lady’s illness and death are attributed to diabolism as her family ignores medical diagnosis. In another, a youth corper, posted to a rural community, adapts to his environment by resorting to his basest instincts. Still another, rural based piece focuses on deep-seated, historical tribal rivalries which are re-ignited with tragic consequences as a result of an illicit affair.
Ugbede’s Piece & Pieces goes into places we all need to travel in search of personal and national security. He engages with the dilemma of poverty and hopelessness among young Boko Haram recruits, writes of a village that is thrown into confusion as one of its most eligible bachelors dies in suspicious circumstances and in one very contrarian piece, spins a futuristic yarn about what the standard social contract between the rulers and the led, will be in decades to come.
“Piece & Pieces is a stark narration of forgotten parts of modern society and speaks to the oratory nature of how Nigerian stories are told mirroring society in a real and telling way”, the publisher notes.
Mr. Ugbede, a graduate of Mass Communication from the University of Jos, was born in Ankpa, Kogi State,
His stories are derived from his middlebelt Nigeria upbringing, as he says in the Q&A below.
What was the inspiration for the book?
The stories in the book are largely pieces of my life while growing up. I grew up in a rather unknown part of Nigeria, among a rather unknown people. But as unknown as we were, we had our experiences; we had our pains and our laughter. Some of the pieces of the stories stuck to me long after I left home. As cultural as they were, I knew the shared experiences were global; love and pain are universal, and I needed the world to see these through the prism of my cultural experience.
As a known playwright, what made you veer into prose?
I think I have always been writing prose. My first piece of prose was written while I was in SS1. Some stories can be told better in prose, especially the stories in Piece and Pieces. I was so engrossed with writing drama that I didn’t plan to write them. But I guess the stories wanted to be heard so they pushed me to dust a part of me that had been fallow for a long time.
How was writing this book different from writing a play?
The style was different, and I had to remind myself once in a while that I was not writing a play. I was used to writing dialogues and it was kind of strange writing in flowery and descriptive languages. But I think I pulled it off. Or did I?
Do you have a favourite story?
Yes, I do. ‘Obete Ogbege And His Nine Inches’ is my favourite story. I cannot remember when I heard that story maybe I was barely ten, but it stuck with me. I laugh anytime I remember the story.
What message do you want to communicate with your writing?
I want to communicate a lot. I want to communicate hope and love and laughter and pains. I want to tell the world of a culture and a people forgotten somewhere in North Central Nigeria. I wanted people to see and feel experiences different from the ones they’re used to.
Any special message for your readers?
I thank them for reading my works. Without them I am nobody. I am empowered because of them.