Review of Chesya Burke, “For Sale: Fantasy Coffins (Ababuo Need Not Apply)”, Apex Magazine 113 (2018): Read Online. Originally published in Stories for Chip: A Tribute to Samuel R. Delany (2015). Reviewed by Joanna Z. Weston.
Eleven year old Ababuo wishes she could have a fantasy coffin, the fantastic, intricately carved creations favored by the rest of the residents of Accra, Ghana. She will never have one, however, because she is Nantew yiye, which means that she can never be buried in the ground, even though it also means that she will die soon.
This is a chilling look a the reciprocity between life and death, made all the more chilling because the agent is a child. Seeing a child reduced to a tool in this way made my stomach churn, but I can’t deny that this is a powerful story. Just not a comfortable one. If you’re anything like me, expect to take some time to let this story settle after you’ve finished if.