Winner of the 2022 Ignyte Award for Best Novella.
In & This is How to Stay Alive by Shingai Njeri Kagunda, Nyokabi's world unravels after her brother Baraka's death by suicide. When an eccentric auntie gives Nyokabi a potion that sends her back in time to when Baraka was still alive, it becomes her only goal to keep him that way. Nyokabi learns that storytellers may be the carriers of time, but defying the past comes with its own repercussions.
A time travel tale and a meditation on grief, this is a powerful novella that demands to be read! – Lavie Tidhar
"A beautiful and rending look at family, loss, and grief, all while sharply dissecting time travel tropes and delivering a powerful message about memory, storytelling, and responsibility. It's a story that hurts in the best of ways, confronting death and healing without losing its sense of humor or its impulse for rebellion."– Charles Payseur, author of The Burning Day and Other Stories
"& This is How to Stay Alive is a powerful manual for recovering from grief, exploring intergenerational trauma, and traveling through time. Kagunda's prose is intense and relatable; you'll feel like you're jumping through time with these characters. The perfect read for anyone and everyone."– Eboni Dunbar, author of Stone and Steel
"Highly inventive and brilliantly crafted. Kagunda pushes the envelope in this exceptional novella, playing with time and form as she explores grief and the drama of the human condition."– Tendai Huchu, author of The Hairdresser of Harare
"Rich with the beauty and harshness of life."– Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, author of Friday Black
"Kagunda weaves an authentic yet otherworldly tale that reflects on the stages of grief and the lengths a young woman is willing to go for a chance to save a loved one."– Booklist
The hospital walls are stark white. Pictures hang on one wall, taken over sixty years ago, before our country's independence. White missionary nurses smiling into the lens, carrying little black children, some with their ribs sticking out. This is what fascinates Kabi—she cannot stop staring at the black and white photos. The doctor comes to the waiting room area and Kabi looks away; she knows it in her spirit—she cannot feel me.
It is not until my mother begins to wail that the absence beats the breath out of her. She feels dizzy. The ground comes up to meet her and Dad is holding Mum so he does not catch Kabi in time. The doctor keeps saying, "I am sorry. I am sorry. I am so sorry."
For Kabi, the sounds fade but just before they do, somewhere in her subconscious she thinks she will find me in the darkness.
Yes, she is coming to look for me.