We are looking for good short stories. But what is a good short story?
In 1942, Martha Fowler was appointed a new annual editor for The Best American Short Stories, and in an attempt to define the form, “a good short story”, she wrote, “is a story which is not too long and which gives the reader the feeling he has undergone a memorable experience.”
We are looking for fiction that centers African experiences and African geographies, that captures the artifacts and spectacles, precariousness and fragility, and the vibrancy of contemporary African life — fiction that soars with the flights of African languages, that does unheard of things with English.
We have a bias for experimental fiction. Experimental is not just a deviation from the norm, not just a stream of consciousness instead of traditional prose, or switching narrators mid-sentence, or typing in comic sans — it is more like the difference between erotica and porn, you know it when you see it. Don’t deviate from the norm just for the sake of it. We prefer delightfully strange stories that drive the reader to dizziness, confusion, laughter and unrestrained excitement. They can be beautiful, quiet, and profound stories that evoke a sense of bittersweet longing or muted despair, or they can be weird, skewed and gut-wrenching tales. We strongly advise against dull and boring stories.
Writing can be genre-specific or genre-bending or literary fiction.
In search of new story forms, we encourage forays into speculative fiction, particularly Afrofuturism, Africanfuturism and Africanjujuism.
Afrofuturism, as a term, was created in 1993 in the essay “Black to the Future: Interviews with Samuel Delany, Greg Tate, and Tricia Rose” by Mark Dery, a white American critic. He wrote: Speculative fiction that treats African-American themes and addresses African-American concerns in the context of twentieth-century technoculture — and, more generally, African-American signification that appropriates images of technology and a prosthetically enhanced future — might for want of a better term, be called “Afrofuturism.”
Africanfuturism, a term coined by Nnedi Okorafor, is “concerned with visions of the future. Is interested in technology; leaves the earth, skews optimistic, is centered on and predominantly written by people of African descent (black people) and it is rooted first and foremost in Africa. It’s less concerned with “what could have been” and more concerned with “what is and can/will be.” Africanfuturism will tend to naturally have mystical elements, drawn or grown from actual African cultural beliefs/world views, not something merely made up.” Nnedi clarifies that Africanfuturism as “a sub-category of science fiction” that is “similar to ‘Afrofuturism’” but more deeply “rooted in African culture, history, mythology and point-of-view as it then branches into the Black diaspora, and it does not privilege or center the West.”
Africanjujuism, Okorafor continues, “is a subcategory of fantasy that respectfully acknowledges the seamless blend of true existing African spiritualties and cosmologies with the imaginative.” Much like Africanfuturism is a subcategory of the science fiction genre, Africanjujuism is more directly tied to the fantasy genre.
Defined by a black writer and not an American critic, Africanfuturism and Africanjujuism, by specificity of language, rid themselves of the othering of the white gaze and the de facto colonial Western mindset. By not centering themselves around the concept of “American” in their definitions, Africanfuturism and Africanjujuism are freed from the white Western gaze.
But do not be bogged by genre biases. Remember: a story is only good when a reader has undergone a memorable experience.
Short stories — 1000 to 5000 words
All submissions should be in Microsoft Word with the title of the article as the file name. The first page should contain the title of the article, name of author, number of words, and a summary of the article (not more than 50 words). The short story should be formatted in Time New Roman 12-point with 1.5 line spacing.
The submission should be sent as an attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org with “Short Story Submission” as the subject line. In the body of the email, please include a bio (not more than 50 words). We prefer bios that shout about creative, academic and professional achievements. We don’t appreciate false modesty.
The magazine is published by a nascent non-profit organization, Sisi Afrika Foundation, barely cutting its milk teeth. We do not have funds to pay for submissions now, but are pursuing sustainability opportunities and will soon offer our knowledge producers responsible compensation for their honoured contributions.