Read ‘And After Many Days’ and Win a Trip to Sharjah

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In November 2018, Channels Book Club  will be taking the three best participants of its book review essay competition on an exciting sponsored trip to the world’s third biggest book fair, the Sharjah International Book Fair in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. The competition is open to secondary school students all over Nigeria.

Sharjah International Book Fair is the most exciting book fair in the world with over 1,500 exhibitors from over 60 countries, Continue reading

Maja-Pearce’s ‘The House My Father Built’ reviewed on Wawa Book Review

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“Our lives are stories that require courage to be told. The House My Father Built is one of such stories. The book is a memoir whose humour is at brilliant par with its sarcasm, wit and satire. It is about the author’s fight, through the challenges of being Nigerian and living in Nigeria, to take possession of what is his. The House My Father Built carefully stings into consciousness memories of Nigeria in the ‘90s. The political, economic and social milieu of that period is brought into sharp focus, and what living through it meant for the average Nigerian is presented from a detached point of view and from the standpoint of having experienced it directly.”

Please go here to read the rest of the review.

Wawa Book Review is dedicated to reviewing books from African publishers.

Helon Habila Reviews Blackass by A. Igoni Barrett

A. Igoni Barrett

A. Igoni Barrett

“In A. Igoni Barrett’s novel, the main character, 33-year-old Lagosian Furo Wariboko, wakes up one ordinary morning and … is white. Later in the novel we meet a writer named Igoni who changes into a woman. But these transformations are not straightforward ones. Despite his white skin, green eyes and red hair, Furo’s eponymous ass remains ‘robustly black’; despite her big boobs and womanly curves, Igoni, now known as Morpheus, still retains his/her penis.”

To read the rest of the review, please go here.

Blackass is forthcoming from Farafina later in 2015.

Review of Yejide Kilanko’s ‘Daughters Who Walk This Path’ on Brittle Paper

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The world abounds with novels about violence against women. So why should you read Daughters Who Walk This Path, Kilanko’s rewrite of a motif that has inspired everyone from Shakespeare (Rape of Lucrece) to Alice Walker (The Color Purple)?

You should because Kilanko does smart and masterful things with the genre.

It’s the 1980s in Ibadan, the city of seven hills and little Morayo is as happy as a lark. Kachi, the boy she’s been crushing on has made it clear that the feelings are mutual. Her friendship with Tomi is a source of the simple joys of childhood. Eniayo, her younger albino sister is growing up to be a lovely and chirpy little girl. Dad and mom are doing well. They’ve just moved from a rented three-bedroom flat to a new two-story complex built from scratch. But this picture-perfect world comes down in a crash one unsuspecting day. Morayo’s near blissful life is abruptly and quite savagely cut short by an act of sexual violence.

To read the full review, click here.

VOGUE Comes Home to Americanah

Vogue Culture

Megan O’Grady describes AMERICANAH as, “a love story for our time”, in her review for US Vogue

“I have for a very long time wanted to write an unapologetic love story,” says Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. “But one that is very much set in a practical world affected by things like getting a visa and paying rent.”

The Nigerian author’s superb third novel, Americanah (Knopf), is that rare thing in contemporary literary fiction: a lush, big-hearted love story that also happens to be a piercingly funny social critique. A young Nigerian woman, Ifemelu, comes to Philadelphia for college, where she’s continually told things like “It’s so sad that people live on less than a dollar a day in Africa.” With her boyfriend Obinze unable to get a visa, Ifemelu has relationships with two Americans: the Waspy, blithely entitled Curt, to whom she explains the significance of Essence magazine (a scene taken directly from Adichie’s own experience with an ex-boyfriend); and the hip African-American Yale professor, Blaine, who listens to Coltrane, eats quinoa, and refers to his friends as “cats.” Farafina's AMERICANAH

As it turns out, Ifemelu’s outsider perspective is precisely what makes her a shrewd analyst of American culture. She starts a blog: Raceteenth or Various Observations About American Blacks (Those Formerly Known as Negroes) by a Non-American Black. In it, she puzzles over the things she sees and the people she meets, writing tartly rueful posts with titles like “Not All Dreadlocked White American Guys Are Down” and “Badly-Dressed White Middle Managers from Ohio Are Not Always What You Think”—the latter about a man shunned by his neighbors after adopting a black child. Coinciding with Ifemelu’s racial awakening is the 2008 presidential election, and her excitement about the Obamas inspires riffs on everything from sexual politics to the future First Lady’s impeccably coiffed hair. “Imagine if Michelle Obama got tired of all that heat and decided to go natural… She would totally rock, but poor Obama would certainly lose the independent vote.”

Read the rest of the article here.

June 12: the Game of Thrones

By Amatesiro Dore

Book Excerpt

June 12 1993: Annulment by Abraham Oshoko (Graphic Novel, 289 pages. Farafina Books, 2013)

This is a sick book about a sick nation, sketched and written by a gifted artist. This is not fantasy fiction like A Games of Thrones by George R. R. Martin where knights and kings wage wars for the Iron Throne with the aid of dragons, magic, swords, and battleships. June 12 1993: Annulment by Abraham Oshoko is real and non-fictional. Nigerian politicians and military men are fighting for Aso Rock with billion naira bribes, revenue embezzlements, fraudulent lies, currency manipulations, character assassinations, and betrayal of friendships. If this is fiction, I would accuse Oshoko of being a very sick man, but these are historical facts, and they are ill.

When copies of this book arrived at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, they were intercepted by men of the State Security Service. The glossy paged graphic novel, designed in a comic book style, received an august reception fit for precious political arts. The SSS delayed distribution and deliberated over “seditious” comments in the book. They withheld five copies for their corporate enlightenment and failed to send us a review, but they permitted Kachifo to take delivery of the remaining copies of June 12. Why? The SSS are right about this: most Nigerians don’t read. The secrets of Aso Rock are safely hidden in the coloured pages of June 12 1993: Annulment; confiscating the book is only going to drum up desired publicity for these classified pages.

Quotes from political pundits and national players peppered the ten chapters of this book. The book covers the annulment days of June 21st -23rd 1993 to the Palace Coup days of November 15th – 18th 1993. It is set in the following mental wards in Nigeria: Aso Rock, Aguda Guest House, MKO Abiola’s private jet and Ikeja mansion, Yar Adua’s compound, the National Assembly, Lagos State Governor’s Office, Dodan Barracks, Babangida’s mansion in Minna, and all other places where Nigeria is decided. June 12, 1993 is the manipulation of the people, by the people, and for the leaders. It is a struggle for federal power, the complicity of our royal fathers, and a record of the cash and carry politics of our political and military leaders. All the saints are villains, and all the bad guys are doing their best for Nigeria.

June 12 is also an economic crisis. The book reveals the seventy kobo fuel price, before the crisis, and the 500% increment to five naira per litre after the June 12 debacle. June 12 is beyond a democratic struggle, the right of every citizen to sell their vote to the highest bidder, and the military hypocrisy about civilian corrupt practises. In Babangida’s speech about the reasons for his annulment of the June 12 elections, he claimed over 2.1 billion naira was spent by both political parties (founded and funded by him), and that he could not swear in a President that had encouraged the campaign of divide and rule…blah blah blah.

The book reveals how the Central Bank of Nigeria was indebted to the bankrupted Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (or verse versa), and the foreign reserve was depleted within weeks after June 12.

Nigerians should read and remember the conspiratorial roles of Olusegun Obasanjo, Shehu Musa Yar Adua, Anthony Anenih, Ibrahim Babangida, Baba Gana Kingibe, David Mark, Arthur Nzeribe, Uche Chukwumereji, Ibrahim Dasuki, Ernest Shonekan, Sani Abacha, Joshua Dogonyaro, Oladipo Diya, and MKO Abiola, in an event known as June 12, which can be described as the sin of the nation.

Na wa o!

Na wa o!

Sick!

JUNE 12 1993: Annulment (Hardback: N4,500)

JUNE 12 1993: Annulment (Paperback: N3,000)

KONGA.COM, and at Kachifo Limited: 253 Herbert Macaulay Way, Yaba, Lagos. Tel: 01-7406741, 0807 7364217.

Also Available  in Lagos:

– Quintessence: Falomo Shopping Complex, Ikoyi.
– The Hub Media Store: The Palms Shopping Mall, Lekki.
– Patabah: Shop B18, Adeniran Ogunsanya Shopping Mall, Surulere.
– The Booksellers Limited: Pan African University, LBS, Km 49 Lekki Expressway, Ajah.
– Lanterna Bookstores: 13 Oko-Awo Close, off Adetokunbo Ademola Street, Victoria Island.

In Abuja:
– The Booksellers Limited: Ground Floor, City Plaza, opposite Biobak Restaurant, Rubuka Close, off Ahmadu Bello Way, Garki II.
– Chapters Books Limited: F7 Omega Centre, Aminu Kano Crescent, Wuse II.

In Port Harcourt:
– Charams Bookshop: 10 Shop 105, Gods Grace Plaza, Peter Odili Road, Trans Amadi, P/H.
– Rainbow Bookshop: 20 Igbodo Street, Old G.R.A.
– Chapters Books Limited: Bovatti Building, 78 Woji Road, G.R.A. Phase II

In Ibadan:
– The Booksellers Limited: 52 Magazine Road, Jericho.

Nigerian edition of AMERICANAH

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Farafina is proud to announce the Nigerian edition of AMERICANAH, the highly anticipated novel by award-winning author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Release date is April 21, 2013 in Lagos. In the months following the release, the author will go on a national book tour with stops in major cities across Nigeria.

ABOUT THE BOOK

AMERICANAH is a fearless novel set in Nigeria, England and America. It boldly takes on issues both big and small: love, race, home, hair, Obama, immigration, and self-invention. In the early 1990s, under Abacha’s government, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love. People are leaving the country if they can and Ifemelu leaves for America, where alongside defeats and triumphs, she confronts the inevitable question of race. Obinze, unable to join her in America, goes on to live as an illegal immigrant in London. After several years they have both achieved success — Ifemelu as a popular blogger about race, and Obinze as a wealthy man in the now democratic Nigeria. When Ifemelu decides to return to Nigeria, she and Obinze must both make the biggest decision of their lives.

REVIEWS

From Binyavanga Wainaina, Caine Prize winner and author of ONE DAY I WILL WRITE ABOUT THIS PLACE:

“Fearless. A towering achievement…From the place of Africans in the race politics in America, to love across continents, AMERICANAH dares to bring us a world of a confident and self-made woman making her way in these complicated times. This is the Africa of our future. Sublime, powerful and the most political of Chimamanda’s novels. She continues to blaze the way forward.”

From Booklist, a publication of the American Library Association:

“Adichie is a word-by-word virtuoso with a sure grasp of social conundrums in Nigeria, East Coast America, and England; an omnivorous eye for resonant detail; a gift for authentic characters; pyrotechnic wit; and deep humanitarianism. AMERICANAH is a courageous, world-class novel about independence, integrity, community, and love—and what it takes to become a ‘full human being.’”

From Dave Eggers, Pulitzer prize finalist, and author of WHAT IS THE WHAT:

“As she did so masterfully with Half of a Yellow Sun, Adichie paints on a grand canvas, boldly and confidently…This is a very funny, very warm and moving intergenerational epic that confirms Adichie’s virtuosity, boundless empathy and searing social acuity.”

From Colum McCann, IMPAC award winner and author of LET THE GREAT WORLD SPIN:

“Adichie’s great gift is that she has always brought us into the territory of the previously unexplored. She writes about that which others have kept silent. AMERICANAH is no exception. This is not just a story that unfolds across three different continents, it is also a keenly observed examination of race, identity and belonging in the global landscapes of Africans and Americans.”

AMERICANAH can be pre-ordered by emailing orders@kachifo.com, calling +2348077364217 or tweeting at us: @farafinabooks

Price: Hardback N4500, Paperback N2500.

Upon release, AMERICANAH will be available in all major bookstores across the country.

Details of national book tour will be announced later.

AWO UNFINISHED GREATNESS: A REVIEW

Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them. Chief Obafemi Oyeniyi Awolowo took an interest in his country’s well-being and transformed the economy of Nigeria.  AWO Unfinished Greatness presents to us a disciplined, yet stylish man who was dedicated to God and his country. The book covers Awolowo’s career from 1947 to 1987 and answers our most pressing questions: What did Awolowo do for Nigeria? What part did he play in the civil war? What was the cause of the tension between Awolowo and the Igbo people?

Ogunsanwo briefly narrates Awolowo’s beginning years; his experience as the son of a farmer and the sudden change that his father’s death effected in his young life. Despite the challenges he faced, Awolowo finished his education and was called to the bar in 1946. Ogunsanwo skips forward from there and focuses on the pertinent years of Awolowo’s life, the years during which he became one of Nigeria’s founding fathers.

Perhaps I speak for myself, but it was ethereal to read about people like Awolowo, Herbert Macauley, Ahmadu Bello; names that I am familiar with because I often drive on those streets. The book was a living breathing time machine and allowed the reader to step into an era that is long gone.

Were you aware that Awolowo loved sports? He showed his commitment by approving the building of the impressive Liberty Stadium. Did you know he was the first gender-sensitive leader in Nigeria? Or that he brought the first television network to Nigeria’s doorstep? In this book, Awolowo becomes more than just a political leader but a man of passion, vision and conscience. It is worth reading the Awo Unfinished Greatness in order to put a character to the familiar face (after all his face is plastered on our currency).

In 1979, Awolowo was asked,

 “Who takes over if you drop dead?” He replied: “I don’t know. What I know is that people will meet and select someone with outstanding discipline in a peaceful and orderly manner. There should be no problem about a successor. When I was in jail, the party went on all the same…”

Awolowo may not have known who would take over from him, but he made sure  his legacy was so great that you cannot but compare all his successors to his governance. Ogunsanwo does Awolowo justice with his words and the biography is simple, seamless and a pleasure to read.

 

Awo Unfinished Greatness is available now from Kachifo in hardback for N3,500 and in paperback for N1,500. To order please call 0807 736 4217 or email orders@kachifo.com.

Achebe’s Memoir: There Were Lots of Reviews

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by Amatesiro Dore

“I met Chinua Achebe for the first time when I was in high school, but I knew him through his works long before that. “Uncle,” as my siblings and I were told to call him, came to our house in Washington, D.C., for a tea time reception my mother had organized. She had just co-written a biography of him for children, inspired in part by my lament that there were few books about the lives of famous Africans.”  Uzodinma Iweala.

My mother wrote nothing on Achebe, she hasn’t read Things Fall Apart, but she paid for my copy. I was reading the Financial Times and I saw a 1968 picture of Biafran soldiers standing on a tugboat. I gazed and noticed it was a portrait of an armed soldier sitting on a concrete platform, he wore no uniform and his face was very easily identifiable. In the background, men in mufti, about thirty of them, posed on two tugboats on the river, only two guns were visible. I took away the memory of that picture from William Wallis’s review of Chinua Achebe’s memoir in the FT. I wondered if the armed and unnamed soldier died during that conflict or if he survived the war, and if his heirs were alive.

In Nigeria, it has become an intellectual fad to write a review of Achebe’s Biafran memoir; even by people who haven’t actually read the book. I promise not to write one. I have read too many. But I have gathered some interesting reviews of Achebe’s book and I have quoted them for your reading pleasure.

“There is an eclectic range of insights and fascinating anecdotes buried in there, but this is not a book that will add much to the understanding of the war, nor one that will go down among Achebe’s great works.” William Wallis.

“But many have waited and hoped for a memoir, for his personal take on a contested history. Now at last he has written it. Although it is subtitled ‘A Personal History of Biafra’, There Was A Country is striking for not being very personal in its account of the war. Instead it is a Nigerian nationalist lament for the failure of the giant that never was; Achebe is mourning Nigeria’s failures, the greatest and most devastating of which was Biafra.” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

I read Noo Saro Wiwa’s review in The Guardian. Her father wrote On the Darkling Plain, a Niger Delta narrative of the Nigerian Civil War.

“No writer is better placed than Chinua Achebe to tell the story of the Nigerian Biafran war from a cultural and political perspective. Yet, apart from an interview with Transition magazine in 1968 and a book of Biafran poems, Nigeria’s most eminent novelist has kept a literary silence about the civil war in which he played a prominent role – until now.”

Tolu Ogunlesi wrote an acclaimed review of Achebe’s memoir. Yes, some reviews were acclaimed.

One question immediately arises but remains unanswered: Why did it take Achebe 42 years to write this book? In the six years immediately preceding the war, he produced three novels, but only one in the forty-two years following. During the war poetry only, and after it, for the most part, only essays.”

Ike Anya also wrote for African Arguments.

“The book could benefit from a closer proofreading and fact-checking process by an informed editor. Irritating errors crop up like “maul over” for “mull over” “deferral” for “federal”, “Iwe Ihorin” for “Iwe Irohin” and St Elizabeth’s Hospital for Queen Elizabeth Hospital, but these do not detract from Achebe’s attempt to present, from his perspective, an account of those dark days. As he says in the book, “My aim is not to provide all the answers but to raise questions and perhaps to cause a few headaches”. It is clear that this is his book, his view and his own particular nostalgic ramble. Ultimately, it is important that he has shared it, warts, unevenness and all. In doing so, Achebe has helped bring the contents of my parents’ brown satchel back into the open.”

Chika Unigwe wrote for The New Statesman.

“Chinua Achebe’s first book in three years richly rewards his admirers’ patience. It is the work of a master storyteller, able to combine seriousness with lightness of touch, even when writing about the terrifying events of a war that cost the life of one of his best friends, the poet Christopher Okigbo, and the lives of millions of others. There Was a Country is a candid, intimate interrogation of Nigeria.”

In summary, I hope you agree, whatever your misgivings about the book, that there indeed, was a country.

P.S

You can buy copies of There Was a Country by Chinua Achebe from Farafina Books by sending an email to orders@kachifo.com, visit our store at 253 Herbert Macaulay Way, Alagomeji Yaba or call us on 08077364217.

Prices are as follows:

Hardback: N4000

Paperback: N2000

Eghosa Imasuen: On Fine Boys and Yellow Girls – A Review by Ikhide Ikheloa

“In mid-1992, CNN reported that sixteen-year-old Amy Fisher had just shot Mary Jo Buttafuoco, something about wanting the older woman dead so Joey – the bloody cradle snatcher – Buttafuoco could be free, I remember Amy was my age. Germany was unified, and British MPs had just elected a woman as speaker. The Soviet Union had been over for about two years, and the Russian-speaking part of Ukraine was threatening secession. The police officers who kicked Rodney King’s head in were getting acquitted for the first time. Grunge rockers were breaking their necks to that song, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” – inspired by the smell of latrines, I think – and African reggae singers were in a panic, rewriting songs, rearranging LPs and pushing back release dates now that Mandela was really free. Fuel prices here increased for the first time past the one naira mark. We had civilian governors and a military president. I was awaiting my matriculation exam results, hoping to make it into the University of Benin to study medicine. I was learning to drive on the busy Warri Streets. I was being a good son.”

– Fine Boys by Eghosa Imasuen

Digital technology is poised to save Africa’s stories from the comatose printing presses of Africa’s “publishers.” Good writers still languish in Africa, staring at lovely stories trapped in the mediocrity of imitation books. But all that is changing. E-books are here for African writers who are savvy enough to port their books to the Kindle or the Nook and share with the world.  It is a good thing. I have been buying and downloading books by writers living in Nigeria, warts and all. I am happy because now I can read many more of our stories than ever before. The Internet has been a boon to our literature. Why do I like reading books by writers “on the ground” in Nigeria as they say? I pine for the stories of our people unvarnished.

One of those books is Fine Boys by Eghosa Imasuen. I heartily recommend this book. There are many reasons why you should read this coming of age story. It is an important book on many levels. I do not know of any Nigerian novel that has taken the time to record history in the 90s through university campus life as this novel has done. In this book, we follow the protagonist, Ewaen, and his siblings as they endure life under constantly feuding middle class parents and grow up amidst the drama that is Nigeria. We accompany Ewaen to the University of Benin and through his eyes we witness several issues that occurred in Nigeria in the 90s. There are so many issues: campus cults took youth peer pressure to violent and deadly lows, there were brutal military regimes, a thwarted attempt at democracy (June 12th 1993), deteriorating educational and social infrastructure, etc. All through the dysfunction, the reader is taken through a tour of numerous relationships, some touching, some banal, and many quite dysfunctional. Marital abuse in the protagonist’s home is a sobering reminder of the war that young children endure in many homes. I admire how Ewaen, the protagonist’s spirit remained unbroken; he continued to weave joy and adventure out of situations that should have broken him irreparably. The book is a fine reminder that every day children trudge bravely through wars that they did not ask for, many of them in their homes.

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