This Hostel Life.
Is a book of short stories written by Melatu Uche Okorie, above, who was born in Nigeria and came to Ireland, with her infant daughter, in 2006 seeking asylum.
They spent eight-and-a-half years in direct provision.
Donal O’Keeffe, in The Avondhu, writes:
“This Hostel Life is a slim volume made up of three short stories, bookended by an introduction by the author, and by a closing essay by Liam Thornton of the UCD School of Law. The introductory essay features a 2013 diary excerpt written when the author was based in “****** direct provision hostel” and makes for difficult and upsetting reading.
‘Apart from the arbitrary changes to our daily routine, the security men also try to intimidate residents like myself who they know will complain about the food options. I would usually find two of them standing directly behind me whenever I’m in the queue for food. It became obvious to me that it was a way of breaking my spirit more than anything. There are tons of cameras in ******, but I would find those security men trailing after me, sometimes, as I walk to my room.’
“The three stories in the collection are each very different, with the title story written from the perspective of a Congolese woman living in a direct provision centre. Written in a pidgin Nigerian English, it portrays people reduced to gossiping and pettiness, their lives stunted by purposelessness, arcane rules and condescending officiousness.”
Tomorrow, as part of the West Cork Literary Festival, Melatu will read from This Hostel Life and chat to Donal in the Bantry Bookshop at 11.30am.