Cultural Inferences in Book Editing

Cover page, Obinna Anumaka, Yesterday Has a Broken Heart



“The funeral had been very quiet but sorrowful; a handful of people had come around to pay their condolences, however, Oge was too blank to recognize the faces.”

(Excerpt from Yesterday has a Broken Heart by Obinna Anumaka)


While editing this book in preparation for its re-launch, I had to pause over the underlined phrase. My initial response was to change it to “quite sorrowful” but I paused because I remembered how funerals of the young and middle-aged are usually conducted in the part of the world that formed the setting for the novel -Nigeria.

BMS Editorial, Editing, proofreading

People are rarely quiet; they express their grief loudly. They may not scream and throw themselves on the ground but a lot of attendees would be vocal about their sorrow. Only those dedicated to stay beside the immediate relatives of the deceased have to maintain a stoic attitude.

I decided to leave the phrase as is because a quiet funeral in Nigeria needs that extra explanation – though it was a “very quiet” ceremony, it was also “sorrowful” and the relatives were sad to let go. The ability to integrate the writer’s thought with the chosen setting is a requirement in book editing. It makes for a more enjoyable read.


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