Ibrahim_When_We_Were_Fireflies
2024 Longlist

When We Were Fireflies

artwork-image

ABOUT
THE BOOK

When brooding artist, Yarima Lalo, encounters a moving train for the first time, two serendipitous events occur. First, it triggers memories of past lives in which he was twice murdered—once on a train. He also meets Aziza, a woman with a complicated past of her own, who becomes key to helping him understand what he is experiencing. With a third death in his current life imminent, together they go hunting for remnants of his past lives. Will they find evidence that he is losing his mind or the people who once loved or loathed him?

ABOUT
THE AUTHOR Abubakar
Adam Ibrahim

Abubakar Adam Ibrahim is a Nigerian creative writer and journalist. His debut short-story collection The Whispering Trees was longlisted for the inaugural Etisalat Prize for Literature in 2014, with the title story shortlisted for Caine Prize for African Writing. Ibrahim has won the BBC African Performance Prize and the ANA Plateau/Amatu Braide Prize for Prose and in 2014, he was selected for the Africa39 list of writers aged under 40 with potential and talent to define future trends in African literature. His first novel, Season of Crimson Blossoms, won the Nigerian Prize for Literature, Africa’s largest literary prize in 2016.

Abubakar Adam Ibrahim is a Nigerian creative writer and journalist. His debut short-story collection The Whispering Trees was longlisted for the inaugural Etisalat Prize for Literature in 2014, with the title story shortlisted for Caine Prize for African Writing. Ibrahim has won the BBC African Performance Prize and the ANA Plateau/Amatu Braide Prize for Prose and in 2014, he was selected for the Africa39 list of writers aged under 40 with potential and talent to define future trends in African literature. His first novel, Season of Crimson Blossoms, won the Nigerian Prize for Literature, Africa’s largest literary prize in 2016.

We're sorry, but we couldn't find any translators matching your search. Please try using different keywords or check back later as we regularly update our collection.

NOMINATING LIBRARY COMMENTS

Abubakar Adam Ibrahim also held free writing workshops for young people. The novels were also autographed and given for free to those young people that cannot afford to buy them. This nomination is not sentimental because indeed When We Were Fireflies by Abubakar Adam Ibrahim is a brilliant and fantastic story. The novel is about one man’s search for meaning across time. In the story, Yarima Lalo, a quiet, self-absorbed artist, goes to witness the first train come into the Idu Station in Abuja. Upon seeing the train, a series of arcane memories he did not know he harboured comes back to him. Lalo remembers another lifetime, in which he is killed in a train. This singular memory becomes the catalyst for other memories and death from other lifetimes. In each of his deaths, he is killed for love. The character Lalo and his companions—Aziza and her daughter, Mina—encounter many things in the northern cities they traverse: Kano, Kafanchan, Kaduna, Jos. The histories of the volatile eruptions that have shaken Northern Nigeria through the decades—from the pogroms of 1966 to the contemporaneous Boko Haram insurgency—are intertwined with Lalo’s bloody past. In its strange, encompassing way, the novel deals thoroughly with reincarnation. Abubakar seems to have asked himself the question: what if we are blessed (or perhaps cursed) to remember our past lives? What do we do with the overpowering onslaught of such new information? Ibrahim’s use of magical realism is subtle. Each unusual occurrence seems normal. There is Lalo’s mother, Kande, who sleeps for weeks on end. There is Libya, who sells fries on the street outside Lalo’s studio. Libya is a physically intimidating returnee from the ravaged North African country whose name he takes, but he also seems to be a counterpoint for lost things. The most recurrent of the novel’s set pieces is the ubiquitous presence of child fairies who collect fireflies in a cart. The curious story of these unworldly collectors are rooted in African mythology and the novel’s most dominant themes of life and death. In When We Were Fireflies, we see that the search for vengeance does not always end well; yet it is in the ability to forgive the failures of the past that we find redemption, such redemption as can be found in empathy and mutual understanding.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Date published
07/03/2023
Country
Nigeria
Original Language
English
Publisher
MASOBE BOOKS

RELATED FEATURES

News January 16 2024

2024 Dublin Literary Award Longlist Revealed

With books nominated by 80 libraries from 35 countries, 4 novels by Irish authors are in the running for the €100,000 prize sponsored by Dublin City Council
News November 28 2023

2024 Dublin Literary Award Judges Announced

Meet our judging panel for 2024 Dublin Literary Award
Video June 2 2023

Highlights from the 2023 Dublin Literary Award Ceremony

Katja Oskamp and translator Jo Heinrich win the prize for Marzahn, Mon Amour.
Video May 26 2023

2023 Award Winners in Conversation with Rick O’Shea

Author, Katja Oskamp and translator, Jo Heinrich in conversation.

STAY CONNECTED

Stay in touch and sign up to our newsletter to receive all the latest news and updates on the Dublin Literary Award.