A Broken Peoples Playlist is a collection of twelve short stories. Each one of the stories is inspired by a song. Essentially, the table of content is a playlist. Some of the stories are spin-offs of each other, while others are standalone.
The strongest story is usually the first with short story collections, while the others serve as fillers. This collection cannot relate. Each story has its own life, and it would be a disservice to refer to any one of them as fillers.
Each story has its highs, lows, and a range of emotions it evokes. Of course, some of the stories were stronger than the others, some packing a stronger emotional punch than others, but each story was still impactful and memorable in its way.
To emphasise that point, everyone I know who has read this book has had trouble deciding on a favourite story, and the people who did have favourite stories had different picks as their favourite.
I liked how diverse the stories were, even with their sharing a common theme: broken, imperfect humans trying to live life and deal with the cards handed to them. There were stories about love, friendship, family, infidelity, police brutality, homophobia, miscarriage and grief. The stories have adult themes, and readers discretion is advised.
My favourite story in the collection was story #9: River, centred around cultism and its devastating effects on its victims. I felt every bit of the brokenness and grief the story’s main character felt.
There was also something about story #5: In The City, a story centred around police brutality and the chilling casualness with which it is meted out. It’s written in different POVs, making it almost movie-like, like you’re watching the story play out.
The wonderful thing about this book is that the stories age like fine wine. At the time of writing this review, I skimmed through some of the stories again, and I had an even better experience reading them a second time.
Another wonderful thing about this collection is how the characters managed to be humorous, even with their less than perfect life. It’s a very Nigerian thing to make jokes out of the most heartbreaking situations. The stories also hit close to home. If you cannot relate personally, you probably know someone who can.
Chimeka also manages to make his stories as close to the Nigerian experience as possible, something that isn’t very common with Nigerian authors these days, with characters sounding too white and detached from the Nigerian experience.
Almost all the stories are sad but infused with a bit of hope. He wrote the stories so well that the author managed to make you feel the characters’ entire range of emotions.
One less than perfect thing I noticed about this book was the editing. The sentences were sometimes off and had grammatical errors. Another thing that put me off was that the book seemed monotonous after a while, and the writing stilted. Although, I’m not sure if that was because I didn’t take my time reading the book, just flying from story to story.
The best way to read any short story collection is to take one’s time reading each story and not just tear through the stories. It prevents the book from seeming monotonous and boring, especially if the stories share a common theme. This collection isn’t exempt. I tore through the first few stories, but as I went on, I took my time absorbing myself in the stories and experiences of these characters, making it a more enjoyable experience.
All in all, I would rate this book 4 out of 5 stars. It’s a very good collection, and I would recommend it to anyone looking to read more Nigerian books or trying to read more short story collections.