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In her brilliantly inventive debut collection, Vanessa Onwuemezi takes readers on a surreal and haunting journey through a landscape on the edge of time. At the border with another world, a line of people wait for the gates to open; on the floor of a lonely room, a Born Winner runs through his life's achievements and losses; in a suburban garden, a man witnesses a murder that pushes him out into the community. Struggling to realize the human ideals of love and freedom, the characters of Dark Neighbourhood roam instead the depths of alienation, loss and shame. With a detached eye and hallucinatory vision, they observe the worlds around them as the line between dream and reality dissolves and they themselves begin to fragment. Electrifying and heady, and written with a masterful lyrical precision, Dark Neighbourhood heralds the arrival of a strikingly original new voice in fiction.
‘Vanessa Onwuemezi’s work makes legible the liminal spaces of contemporary existence: border-zones at once geopolitical, metaphysical and – above all – linguistic. She sends English off on a great line of flight, from which it returns as poetry.’
- Tom McCarthy, author of Satin Island
‘Onwuemezi is an exceptionally gifted writer. Her prose is bold, her vision singular. Unnervingly brilliant, Dark Neighbourhood is a phenomenally imaginative collection.’
- Claire-Louise Bennett, author of Checkout 19
‘Dark Neighbourhood is a thrill and a challenge. Vanessa Onwuemezi is her own thing, but reading her I experience the same exciting, destabilizing sense of the world being shown anew – being made anew – that I get from Silvina Ocampo, Clarice Lispector or Dambudzo Marechera.’
- Chris Power, author of A Lonely Man
‘Onwuemezi’s writing is a breath of fresh air. This collection is a marvel.’
- Daisy Johnson, author of Sisters
'With stories of ambiguous embodiments, slick, mordant desires and warping cityscapes, Vanessa Onwuemezi's Dark Neighbourhood offers a new poetics of storytelling. Lyrical clarity combines with formal experimentation alongside hotching, grimaced, and dazzling world-building: a potent, portentous, truly original collection.'
- Eley Williams, author of The Liar's Dictionary
‘Every sentence in Vanessa Onwuemezi’s Dark Neighbourhood demands and deserves attention. Each story pulses and throbs with a precise and electric energy, yet there’s still so much space for her characters to explore the depths of themselves, and, in turn, ask the reader to do the same. Onwuemezi is a writer who approaches her craft with real rigour and care, and her voice is unlike any I’ve read.’
- Caleb Azumah Nelson, author of Open Water
‘I found reading Vanessa Onwuemezi's Dark Neighbourhood a deeply affecting experience.These stories glitter with the stuff of something from another world, one whose language makes it possible to articulate "the brokenness of being'".’
- Natasha Soobramanien, author of Genie and Paul
‘In disrupted and disrupting prose, Vanessa Onwuemezi achieves the dissolution of consciousness and slippage of omniscience found in poetry and in life. Her cool authority expresses itself in rigorous, original formal decisions and a detached, exacting lyricism. The seven stories in Dark Neighbourhood construct our condition as a limbo in which neither the waiting nor the waited-for offers satisfaction or resolution, but in which, as the book’s epigraph suggests, Night is also a sun.’
- Kathryn Scanlan, author of Dominant Animal
‘I read this book with wonder and delight. Vanessa Onwuemezi is a mesmerizingly charismatic writer. Each of her stories is a mystery, an idiom, an invention.’
- Toby Litt, author of Patience
‘Beautiful, burning writing. The strangeness and precision of the language not only make new worlds – with a scorched poetic and political vision akin to Samuel R. Delany’s best work – but bring this world into focus, in all its depravity, injustice and heartbreak.’
- Will Harris, author of RENDANG
Vanessa Onwuemezi is a writer and poet living in London. Her work has appeared in Granta, Prototype, frieze and Five Dials. Her story ‘At the Heart of Things’ won the White Review Short Story Prize 2019.