The idea seemed natural and easy when we were sitting together in a bar: we would gather fiction from several sub-Saharan nations by tapping writers that E. C. Osondu follows and admires. (E. C. won the Caine Prize for African Writing—the “African Booker”—two years after his AGNI story “Jimmy Carter’s Eyes” put him on the shortlist.) We would aim for breadth without attempting a quixotic “representativeness.” We would publish roughly half of the resulting portfolio in the fall 2010 print issue and the other half at AGNI Online. And we would still get some sleep at night.
That was almost six months and fifty stories ago. Even the original list of potential contributors seemed ambitious, but as we went asking for fiction—something AGNI rarely does—those we contacted led us, again and again, to other admired and innovative writers. The list grew, reminding E. C. of the party invitations he received while growing up in Nigeria, which typically bore the legend: “Come One, Come All. Beer and Food Inexhaustible.”