Available on JSTOR at: doi.org/10.2307/3334513
Selby Ashong-Katai has been very active in various literary circles in Ghana and won two literary prizes while at the University. Subsequently he has been an actor and is at present the Organizing Secretary of the Ghana Association of Writers. Mr. Ashong-Katai sent us a substantial collection of short stories, and it was not easy to find the one that most appropriately represented his particular style as a writer. It was with some reservations perhaps that the editors selected “A Nightmare”. We recognized that a ghost story must necessarily have a melodramatic quality that might disguise the more subtle elements of the writing by emphasis on the violent plot. Yet the ghost element seems only the most underlying, almost accidental, structure of this tale. Its strength does not rest with its topic, nor in its plot, but with the skill with which the author can create people and their environment. There is the scornful pidgin English of Abudu's conversation, the strangely frightening tension of the moments with the young girl, and the oblique ironies observed when the protagonist at the height of disaster buys his water from the shop with the sign “God is our help.” All these items sketch in an effective reality based upon an awareness and sensitivity to the specific environment upon which the writer draws for his situations. If one were being critical one might argue against the need for plots with too urgently contrived denouements – the strength of writing could be argued to rest rather with forging through words the sharp reality of experience that begins in observation and must be rendered into accurate form for the reader to share. It is Ashong-Katai's potential strength that he often achieves important sections which exemplify this skill throughout his tales.