NEXT featured an article in its arts and culture section about the book review. We have taken the liberty of pasting an excerpt below. Enjoy!
It was an afternoon of enlightenment and amusement during the monthly Farafina book review which held at Terrakulture on November 6, 2010. Farafina launched the initiative some months ago in a bid to propel African writing and the reading culture.
The book of the day was Eghosa Imasuen’s ‘To Saint Patrick’ and the review was done by culture activist, Toyin Akinosho. The anchor was radio presenter, Wana Udobang. Ahead of the review proper, Imasuen, read excerpts from his book and fielded questions on a number of issues raised by the narrative.
‘To Saint Patrick’, an alternate history fiction, was published in 2008.
It is set in a Nigeria where the late Murtala Muhammed survived the 1976 coup and the coup plotter Buka Suka Dimka was apprehended. Imasuen who confessed that he was fond of Sci-Fi, horror and dark fictions, said he had always wanted to do an alternate history novel.
The author recalled that his mother used to tell him stories about the period when Murtala Muhammed was assassinated. She was at the University of Ibadan at the time. Also, he had an Uncle, an Itsekiri man who as a soldier during the period of the civil war, who narrowly escaped being killed by Federal troops. And then there was the Asaba massacre of 1967.
These were stories Imasuen had been told by family members who had been witnesses to some of these events. So naturally, they aroused his curiosity and piqued his interest. He added that his interests found the right opportunity for expression when he decided to start writing the book.
“The book is a treatise on what constitutes heroism and villainy, and if someone could be allowed to make up for past sins”, Imasuen said. Commenting some more on the prevalence of ‘what ifs’ in the novel, the writer revealed, “I wanted to see how things could have been with a left-leaning Government in 1979”.
The idea of speculation is to contemplate how Nigeria would have turned out if some of those defining moments in the nation’s history had taken a different course.
On the Writer’s Niche
Imasuen studied Medicine at the University and had never written seriously before although he enjoyed reading. “I always envy those who say they have been writing since they were children,” said Imasuen humorously to the audience.
On how he eventually began, he said, “I started writing after an argument with my mother about stagnation”. His mother had teased him about becoming a stereotyped doctor and getting stuck in the rut of medical practice. She suggested he try his hands at writing as it was something he had always had some sort of interest in. However, his initial attempts were awful.
However, it was after he read Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s ‘Purple Hibiscus’ that he began to get the hang of writing. “The book spoke with my voice,” he disclosed. After finding his feet, he began to write and was fortunate that Kachifo (Farafina) found the story fascinating and refreshing when he sent it to them. The rest, as they say, is history.