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.

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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Review of Eghosa Imasuen’s Fine Boys

Title: Fine Boys
Author: Eghosa Imasuen
Publisher: Farafina (Kachifo Limited)
Pages: 379
Reviewer: Sylva Nze Ifedigbo

I will start off by saying that Eghosa Imasuen has written a fantastic book which you must hurry to read. I am tempted to describe this book, Fine Boys, as a coming of age story – which indeed it is – but it is more. It is our story, the story of a period in the life of our nation. The story of the years of the meltdown, when our nation finally spiraled out of control politically and economically.

At the centre of the tapestry is Ewaen, from whose voice this entrapping story is told. Ewaen can easily pass for any Nigerian who was an undergraduate in any Nigerian university in the late 80s and early 90s. At the very beginning of the story, we meet this smart, upper middle class adolescent who is eager to gain admission into the university to study Medicine. It’s a very familiar experience, the ‘waiting for admission’ period. Ewaen spends his time with friends, playing computer games, trying out new vices and fantasising about school.

Quite early in the book also, we meet Wilhelm, Ewaen’s ‘half caste’ friend who has a penchant for overdoing anything he falls in love with, as seen in his adoption of pidgin English as his default language of communication, despite being a late comer to it. His stubborn dedication to any cause would prove to be a double-edged sword and a huge factor in moderating this story.

Fine Boys leads us through the experiences of these two young men and others of their age whom they meet in school. Friendships are formed. Experiences are shared. They quarrel and make up. They fall in love. Some learn to smoke, others to drink. Something, however, is ever-present; the usual pressure to join a campus cult; ‘confra’, as they are called in the book. Some join. But there isn’t just one cult and the field is never large enough for all, hence the conflict which plays out and threatens to consume all the friends a few years down the line.

Sylva Nze Ifedigbo, author of The Funeral Did Not End, is Feature and Review Editor for Sentinel Nigeria Magazine. Read the rest of this review on Daily Times Nigeria.

Fine Boys will be available soon in bookstores near you.