“I believe oppression, injustice, discrimination, bad behaviour, crime, etc., should always be called out. I also believe poor arguments, errors, misjudgments, etc., should be pointed out. Cancel culture is none of these though.”

In this conversation with Isele, Chimeka Garricks talks about his new book, A Broken People’s Playlist, why it is important to include redemptive arcs in complex stories, and what he thinks about the cancel culture.

Congratulations on the publication of your collection, A Broken People’s Playlist! How are you feeling about ABPP’s reception?

Thank you very much. Considering I had niggling concerns about a sophomore slump, I’m delighted by the reception A Broken People’s Playlist has gotten. The feedback and reviews have been excellent. But what I have enjoyed most is how the stories have touched some people personally – making them reminisce, rebuild broken relationships, and start journeys to self-repair and healing.

Many of the characters in ABPP are flawed, and the stories did a great job of acknowledging human complexities, while also giving the characters their necessary redemptive arcs. What do you want your readers to take away from the collection?

Thank God for the fascinating complexity of human nature. People can be monstrous but miraculous, misunderstood yet judgmental, capable of great love and mega-assholery at the same time. It is why we are beautiful. And why we all need to give a lot more grace to others and ourselves.

And, what do you think of the recent conversations about the “cancel culture” which some people have said do not allow those who erred the opportunity to redeem themselves?

I believe serious things like oppression, injustice, discrimination, bad behaviour, crime, etc., should always be called out. I also believe poor arguments, errors, misjudgments, etc., should be pointed out, ideally, in good faith.

Cancel culture is none of these though.

To me, cancel culture usually involves trying to get people fired over ideological differences, totally unconnected with their jobs. Or, viciously turning on long-term friends and allies for failing ever-changing 100% ideological purity tests. It’s the constant dishonesty of pretending to be unable to distinguish between disagreement and hate. It’s the foolishness of joining a rabid mob’s rush to demonize, without hearing from the other side.

The amusing thing is, many of the people who are quickest to cancel others usually have blind spots about their hypocrisies. They remind me of those who wanted to stone the woman to death, until Jesus said, ‘He who is without sin among you should cast the first stone’. Only that, now, they’d probably stone both Jesus and the woman, and blame them for getting stoned. Like Nietzsche’s popular quote, they have become the same monsters they claim to fight. 

Cancel culture pretends it is driven by love and justice. But, it’s a cruel religion, humorless and merciless, with no path to redemption.

We all need to understand that because we are human, we will never all agree, or all like each other. And that should be fine, especially in places where we have systems (to prevent us from harming each other, and to mete the appropriate justice when we do). In all this, we should remember to always make room for grace and growth, for others and ourselves. Because, in the immortal words of 2Baba, ‘You no holy pass’.  

Thankfully, more people are seeing through cancel culture. And I hope more people stand up to it.

Of the many lyrics you tweet, my recent favourite was the verse about trauma from J. Cole’s Middle Child. The stories in ABPP were inspired by the songs you listened to. Is music critique a genre you keep private or are you going to publish any soon?

Currently, I have no plans to write proper music critiques. However, I particularly enjoy the backstories behind music — how a band got together and broke up, what influenced the lyrics, the choice of samples used, artistes’ creative arcs as they age, etc. One day, maybe I’ll write about some of my favorite stories.

In your last chat with Masobe Books, you recounted the challenges you faced after publishing your debut novel, Tomorrow Died Yesterday. Now you have a successful collection. What next do you have for your readers?

Fingers crossed; my next book should be a novel.

Who are you reading and listening to at the moment?

I’m reading an interesting manuscript from the talented Adesuwa Ehinome Iluobe. For music, today, I’ve been switching between De La Soul’s ‘Held Down’ (the lyrics are almost scripture), and Ignis Brothers’ ‘Alien at Home’ (it’s balm to the soul).

Chimeka Garricks has written: a novel, ‘Tomorrow Died Yesterday‘; and a collection of short stories, ‘A Broken People’s Playlist’. He is also a lawyer, editor, and ghost copywriter.