Tuesday, 2 March 2010

~ Spring Reads ~

In the first few days of March, i see the sun's face lightening every ones spirits. Despite the cold winds, we pretend we cannot feel it & bring out the sunnies that have been in hibernation for the past 6 months. What is it about the sun that makes people happy? Personally, spring reminds me of home. The light breezes of the cool Nigerian wind, blowing soft against a pale orange sun. When nostalgia kicks in, i curl up on my sofa- enjoying the English deceitful sun from a safe distance and enter the colorful worlds of my favourite Nigerian authors. Enjoy!

~ The Thing around your neck ~ I am a solid Adichie fan. Though this is just her third book, her writing skills never cease to amaze me.  This book is a collection of 12 short stories depicting the trials & tribulations of Nigerians living in the U.S and Nigeria. Her story-telling style of fiction writing is reminiscent of Chinua Achebe but with a modern, feminine, up to date twist. I feel Adichie's strongest parts of this book are when she describes the dislocated nigerian woman, lost in a western world, craving her home town in the midst of all the 'american wonder'. Her writing is almost familiar, so you feel an instant connection with her and it is like you are old friends sharing fond stories. Here's an excerpt from the self titled short story;

''You thought everybody in America had a car and a gun; your uncles and aunts and cousins thought so, too. Right after you won the American visa lottery, they told you: In a month, you will have a big car. Soon, a big house. But don’t buy a gun like those Americans.They trooped into the room in Lagos where you lived with your father and mother and three siblings, leaning against the unpainted walls because there weren’t enough chairs to go round, to say goodbye in loud voices and tell you with lowered voices what they wanted you to send them. In comparison to the big car and house (and possibly gun), the things they wanted were minor — handbags and shoes and perfumes and clothes. You said okay, no problem''

At times i was frustrated as i read this, because each story was so good you are left wanting more. Dissatisfied at the 20 odd pages, feeling cheated she didn't turn it into 12 novels. It's a fantastic light read. Perfect for spring!

~ Say your one of them ~ Emem Akpan is a Nigerian Jesuit priest. I first saw him on Oprah as she recommended his book to the audience vowing with tears in her eyes how 'it changed her life'. Everything changes Oprah's life these days but i was still itching to read it, after hearing such great reviews. The book is a collection of 5 stories with child protagonists in Africa, who are caught in the tragedies that are true to Africa, ranging from genocide to AIDS. He writes with such precision about people from different African faiths and nations, i wondered how a Nigerian writer could write with such conviction about other places, as if he had lived in these places his whole life. In his interview with Oprah he told her how he wrote the fist story in the book 'an Ex-Mas' feast, standing in the markets of Nairobi for hours, observing the way the street children talk, eat, laugh, hustle, play and cry. He said, 'i carried no note pad, no pen, i put my hands in my pockets and just watched'.

"Fattening for Gabon' is a brilliantly written story. He is an OUTSTANDING writer, able to capture the differences of African nations, pulling them together so beautifully, he highlights the fact that we are all not that different after all. 

An excerpt from 'Ex-mas feast'; 

''Guilt began to build in my gut. Maybe if I had joined a street gang, Maisha would not have wanted to leave. I wouldn't have needed money for school fees, and perhaps there would have been peace between Maisha and my parents. But my anger was directed at the musungu men, for they were the visible faces of my sister's temptation. I wished I were as powerful as Naema's boyfriend or that I could recruit him. We could burn their Jaguar. We could tie them up and give them the beating of their lives and take away all their papers. We could strip those musungu naked, as I had seen Naema's friend do to someone who had hurt a member of his gang. Or we could at least kill and eat that monkey or just cut off his mboro so he could never f*** anybody's sister again. I removed my knife from my pocket and examined the blade carefully. The fact that it was very blunt and had dents did not worry me. I knew that if I stabbed with all my energy, I would draw blood''

Emem Akpan, a man with a natural gift. I cannot wait to read his next one, please read this, it is a genuinely beautiful piece of art.

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