Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Discovery

Digging for tubers
Of barren cassavas
The root of our fingers
Uprooted
Skulls…
            And then…
Femurs…tibias…
Carpals…tarsals…
Ribs…metacarpals…
Hips…metatarsals…
Of seething ghosts
Whose spirits
Trail our homes
Traverse the forests
And have no rest

Buried in pieces
In wide dugouts
And trenches
Remembered by none
Save the termites
Which file pass
Their dry bones
In one long scribble
Spelling their life’s
Achievements in
Twisted epitaphs

Their assassins
Being our
Armageddon shall
Taste no death on earth
But shall live into
The eternity of hell
Well deserved

When man exacts
Judgement unto man
His measure is the
Firmament’s expanse
Which his eyes
Cannot size or behold
His expectations are
The seas whose borders
Our brains cannot
Point out or stake

Pinoche unto Chileans
Milosovic’s Serbs unto
Yugoslavs’ Albanians
Majority Hutus unto Tutsis
Hitler’s heinous Holocaust
Juiced just for Jews
Foday Sanko and his
Hand-cutting RUFfians
Unto silent Sierra Leoneans

Man has buried man
For unknown sins
These mass graves
Lost in time’s memory
Call forth man’s earliest debasement
Of deceit and murder

by Nana Fredua-Agyeman (July 2006)

Monday, December 21, 2009

AWOL...Sorry

Hi to all my readers and followers, Work took me farther into the villages of Ghana for over a month and these are places where access to the internet is almost nonexistent. Consequently I have not been able to update my blog as often as I used to do. 

However, I am still reading and hope to update the blog when I complete the book I am reading.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

26. "Incidents at the Shrine" by Ben Okri

Title: Incidents at the Shrine
Author: Ben Okri
Genre: Short Stories
Publishers: Vintage
Pages: 136
Year of First Publication: 1986 (this edition, 1993)
Country: Nigeria

Incidents at the Shrine is a collection of eight short stories by Ben Okri, the 1991 Booker Prize winner (with Famished Road). These eight short stories touch on different aspects of life within Nigeria and in the World at large. Though the stories are varied, a common theme threading through this novel is the magical reality that underlies Okri's writing.

In 'Laughter Beneath the Bridge', the Biafran war is told from the viewpoint of a ten year old boy. If it had never occurred to you that wars could also affect the emotional life of younger children then read this short piece. Children and women had most often being cited as the victims of war but the emphasis has mostly been placed  on their geographical and psychological dislocation. However, this short piece tells of how this ten-year old boy lost a girl he loves, but couldn't tell her, to the ravages of war simply because she was from the rebel tribe and could not speak properly the soldiers' language.

In 'Converging City' we meet Agodi, a Christian, as he goes through series of disasters and losses including the loss of his shed, wife, children and mind. However, this short piece tells more than just Agodi and his troubles. It also tells of a military leader or head of state, who, fearing another coup d'état, as a result of vision he had in traffic, decided to relinquish power to elected civilian government; and there is a midget who goes about advertising his protective prowess through physical demonstrations of his strength. What happens when Agodi the Christian meets Ajasco Atlas, the Indian trained ex-wrestler?

A depressed Taxi driver (a Nigerian perhaps) chanced upon the a quarter of a million pounds left behind by a 'big' Nigerian (perhaps a politician) whilst on his way to Marks and Spencer. 'Disparities' is about this Taxi driver who is not fitting in into the culture or who has not
"... acquired the most ritual trappings of culture" (page 38).
This story, and in fact most of the stories in this collection, reads like an allegory. The parallelism between the story and the helplessness of life in general for many Africans comes clear from the lines:
"... Then I remembered the briefcase. Hungry, wet haunted by the faces of the anguished Nigerian, I shouted: 'There is a quarter of a million pounds floating in the river'. ... The Thames soon swarmed with a quarter of a million pirates, rogues and hassled people who had long since had enough. They bobbed and kicked, a riot on the waters, for a leather briefcase that would open up a feverish haven of dreams and close up, for ever, the embattled roomful of desires. ..." (page 50)
'Incidents at the Shrine', the title of the collection, is a very deep story that speaks on more levels than it reads. As is, it tells of a man who was pursued by images and had to run to his village to meet the Master Image Maker, who would solve all his problems but even then, not fully. To me it is more allegorical, representing the suffering age and its maddening appendage. What then are the incidents at the shrine?
'The world is the shrine and the shrine is the world' (page 60).
Thus, the incidents in the world are the problems faced by Anderson or Ofuegbo or Azzi or Jeremiah. They are unseen but their effects are clear. When they become visible, they are only to the problem-bearing ones and none else and that even though they wouldn't go, it is best to attack it head on as Anderson did.

Though the blurb explained 'Hidden History' as the decay of a British inner city, I only read it, like the others, allegorically; specifically as the history of Africa with its dictators and leaders being the List Maker and the generations who came later as the latter-day freedom-fighting Africans: those that had come to challenge the List Makers, after they had
'one by one shamefully, like disgraced people left' (page 82).
Even though the later generations
'...had inherited the myth of the street of hate' (page 87/88),
they had also come to drive the List Maker
'... into a corner' (page 88).
Other stories in the collection include: Masquerades, Crooked Prayer and The Dream-Vendor's August. What is a child's view of life in a semi-modern African home where the father is prevented, by Christianity and perhaps Westernisation, from taking on another wife even though his wife cannot bear him a child but still goes ahead to impregnate a no-body? This is the depth of Okri's novels. He tackles issues from unlikely sources and his novels are almost always like an open architecture: it has several threads of understanding. I really enjoyed this novel especially the ones that seemed more spiritual and magical.

Okri's ability to weave stories interesting stories with the capability of virtually arresting the attention of the reader is supreme. I really enjoyed it and would recommend this novel unreservedly. I know you would like it.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

25. "In the Heart of the Country" by J.M. Coetzee

Title: In the Heart of the Country
Author: J.M. Coetzee
Genre: Novel (Dystopian, Lust, Murder)
Publishers: Vintage
Pages: 151
Year of First Publication: 1977 (this edition, 2004)
Country: South Africa

"Today my father brought home his new bride."
This is the sentence that set the novel, In the Heart of the Country, in motion and around which every deed in the novel revolves. Set in one of South Africa's remote farming communities, the novel, written in the first person's narrative style and in the present tense and set in the form of journal entries with numbered paragraphs, tells the story of how an old and psychotic virgin, Magda, killed her father and her father's black mistress, Klein-Anna, whom she describes as the new bride, but who in actuality was the wife of Magda's father's servant, Hendrik.

In the novel, Magda writes of killing her father in two very different scenarios. In the first scenario, she kills her father together with his mistress with a hatchet, whereas in the second instance she shoots him and left him to his eventual death.

Magda consistently rues about her inability to love and be loved, her ugliness, her frustration of having not had sex and not knowing how it feels like to have it and therefore having not become a woman like Klein-Anna, though she is far older than her and usually referred to her as 'child'. However, Magda's active mind, romanticized and lusted after Hendrik always thinking of how Hendrik was going to have sex with her forcefully and it wasn't after the death of her father that she allowed Hendrik to humiliate her sexually and even in her humiliation she begged for more: to be satisfied. But did all these happened?

Pain and pleasure was one of the themes the novel explored. However, in all of these pleasure seemed to be a faint thing and even where they occurred they were overcome with pain. This characteristic made the novel  dystopian and distressful:
"Pleasure is hard to come by, but pain is everywhere these days, I must learn to subsist" (page 38).
Each paragraph is like a jigsaw puzzle which, in most cases, tells of a different activity than the preceding entry, but which together forms the complete story of Magda and her fantasies. The borderline between psychosis and reality was so blurred that it was in the end that it is seen that perhaps Magda's father wasn't dead and that she is alone in the middle of a vast countryside home shut behind a series of bolted rooms all alone and ruing.

Even though the novel provides the life account of a psychotic unmarried woman who has a "hole that has never been filled..." there are several instances where the book provides the psychology behind human behaviour, which I found it hard to have been conceived by a lonely mad woman. For instance concerning her father's love for his servant's wife she stated that:
"...the truth is that he needs our opposition, our several oppositions, to hold the girl away from him, to confirm his desire for for her, as much as he needs our opposition to be powerless against that desire. It is not the privacy that he needs but the helpless complicity of watchers. " (page 37).
However, psychosis and genius have had little point of departure. In the Heart of the Country being the second of Coetzee's novels I have read, after Dusklands, makes certain aspect of his writing clearer to me. His use of sounds: alliteration, assonance and rhyme are very unique though subtle. Coetzee's writings also depict him as someone who have enough knowledge in many different fields of study.  He provides examples of issues from varied fields ranging from Music, to Mathematics, Physics, Psychology and many others. Only about ten percent of the novel involves dialogue.

Whilst I was reading this novel, an idea struck me: what if this is an allegory of man's suffering on earth? This novel is highly recommended and though I have not read his more popular novels, I believe Coetzee is worth a reading.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Wall

It fell
Because there was no base
Because the top was too heavy

It fell
Because what we see do not matter
It is what we do not see that matters most

It fell
Because it was neither built
In our hearts nor in our minds

It fell
Because it was not there
Because it was a phantom of a wall

copyright 2007 by Nana Fredua-Agyeman

Saturday, November 07, 2009

24. Cloth Girl by Marilyn Heward Mills

Title: Cloth Girl
Author: Marilyn Heward Mills
Publishers: Cassava Republic
Genre: Novel (Love, Tradition, Life)
Pages: 371
Year of First Publication: 2006 (this edition, 2008)
Country: Ghana

Set in the Gold Coast between 1937 and 1952, Cloth Girl is a story about love, distress, heartbreaks and regrets. Cloth Girl is a story about a fourteen-year old girl trapped in a polygamous marriage for which tradition and convention demand that she remains silence and counts her marriage as a blessing, for what a woman should expect from marriage is not love, but children and a husband to take care of her children.

Seizing their chance to be associated with the prominent Bannerman family, the Lamptey family accepted  marriage proposal from Lawyer Bannerman for fourteen year old Matilda. At such a young age and being a woman, Matilda did not have a say in her marriage, though it concerned her life. However, Matilda, who was to become a second wife to this prominent Gold Coast lawyer with degrees from Cambridge could not construct a complete sentence in English and had to compete with lawyer's first wife, sophisticated Julie, a woman who was out of touch with tradition and so would not accept her as her husband's second wife, and hence a co-wife, for lawyer's attention, affection and love.

Whilst Matilda's life was unfolding before her, Alan Turton, a British citizen serving in the colony was also having serious marital problems with his wife, Audrey Turton, who was determined not to be happy with life in the colony. Audrey hated Alan, for bringing her into this cesspool of uncivilised people who urinates into open gutters, eats food infested with flies and who are infected with unnamed diseases; into a place where the weather is so hot and the earth so barren. Audrey hated everyone who was in the colony, or related to it. For instance, she hated the King of England for even deciding to civilised these people who cannot be civilised, Hitler for embarking on the World War, just when they (she and Alan) were about to set sail to England, the people in the colony for needing to be civilised in the first place. Later, she resorted to heavy drinking and smoking.

However, Matilda's and Audrey's lives were to meet at a point that was to determine their individual destiny. How could the life of a girl whose command of the English language is so poor that she grins foolishly at every word that is uttered and who lives at Jamestown, a typical Ga settlements, give hope to a hopeless and drunk wife of the ADC to the governor, a woman who had walked on the verge of madness and lives in the European quarters and who moves among the glitterati of the colony including the Governor of the colony?

This is how complicated Marilyn's debut novel is. It is absorbing, suspenseful, and  a difficult-to-put-down novel. Marilyn's description of the traditional Lampteys, the semi-western Bannermans, and the western Turtons and her command of tradition are indicative of someone who has been on both sides of the divide and understands both with equal measure. In the novel, Matilda's father was a sidelined figure as is the case in most families that practice the matrilineal inheritance system in Ghana. In such an inheritance system, a man is responsible for his sisters' children so that whilst Matilda's blood father, Owusu, was alive and around, Saint John, Matilda's mother's brother, served as the father figure for Matilda, giving her up for marriage and attending to familial issues that require the attention of a man.

This is a very beautiful story of life in a polygamous marriage well told by someone who has done here work well. The story elicits the right emotions, taking the reader through an emotional roller-coaster: at one breadth hating Audrey whilst sympathising with Alan and at another time having a reverse of these emotions. It was easy to pity Matilda through until she allowed herself to be misled (though not entirely her fault).

Whereas Cloth Girl tells the marriage and life story of Matilda (and Audrey) it is also a story about two women who want freedom, respect and love in very diverse forms. This is a book I would highly recommend to all those who love to read and all those who enjoyed Buchi Emecheta's The Joys of Motherhood. My only problem with the novel is that sometimes I think Matilda's thoughts were a bit deep for a 14-year old, but even so it did take nothing from the enjoyability of the novel for the 1930s were the period where people take on family responsibilities earlier and women, especially, were encourged to mature early for marriage. Also, I believe the publishers could have done more considering the numerous blunders they committed, such as an O with an accent on the top as a symbol for inverted commas ('). On one occasion the reader had to jump a page to continue a sentence and later come back.
______________________
Cloth Girl was shortlisted for the Costa Awards Debut Novel of the Year in 2006.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Horrorscope

we die twice:
when we are dead
and when we finally die!

Over the horizon…

Harbinger hoppers of damnable doom
Darken the sank-sun heavens
The green-earth shrivels into ashes

Fallow feast of fire
Embalms our grasshouse in teary wool
Explosions in our cooking pots
Our fireplace goes raining
And survivalist vultures swirl
In a satisfying dinner dance

Human hearts in scavenging jaws;

Death harvesters
With scrotum eyes
In rage’s mortal companionship
Define the shrine for our spice-sacrifice

The storms feast from our foundering boat
The mother-toad’s spawned eggs
Feed the hatching fishes;

One-third, one-half, one
All buried beneath a black earthen boil
To produce tasteless tubers—
Human humus post-humously honoured
In yield to kiss spectral lips

…those cowries
Two to keep our eyes open
Four for the barrel to shatter our hearts
…and our hearts are shattered
…and our eyes closed

Our hollow ribs blow death’s deep horn
Our horrible deaths dribble the soulless Horn.

(As seen through the Horrorscope)

by Nana Fredua-Agyeman                                              

Friday, October 30, 2009

Commonwealth Awards

I read from The Bookaholic Blog that the winners for the Commonwealth Short Story Competition has been published. Once again, Nigeria, a country known for great literary talents such as Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe, Ben Okri, Christopher Okigbo, Immomotime Okara, E.C. Osondu, Chimamanda Adichie, Elechi Amadi etc,  dominated the awards. 

My belief in Nigerian writers has once again been affirmed by the confirmation of these awards. Nigeria abounds literary talents, and there are rich stories in Nigeria. However, just like any other country and any other profession, fame easily comes to the writer if he escapes the boundary of Africa and sojourn in an European or Western country, even if for awhile.


The Regional Winner for Africa: Kachi A. Ozumba of Nigeria for The One-Armed Thief

Winners of the Highly Commended Stories include:
Ayobami Adebayo of Nigeria for Dreams
Akiwumi Akinwale of Nigeria for LFO
Mbofun Carlang of Nigeria for The Father's Blessings

Read the rest here or there

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

An Almost 100 Books to be Read in 5 Years

After reading numerous blogs, I have decided to also challenge myself by assigning to myself 100 books to be read in 5 years, depending on availability and cost.

The first set of books comes from Africa's Top 100 books as researched by the Zimbabwe Library Foundation. If I should come across interesting translations from Francophone and Lusophone writers, I would read them alongside these. As it stands now, all these writers are from Anglophone countries (except Mahfouz Naguib, from Egypt). Since this list contains mostly the classic, new writers would be read alongside these.

Note: All books by the following authors would be read as and when they become available:
  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 
Books I have read would be italicised;
Books I have read and reviewed on this blog would be italicised, crossed and linked;

Books from Africa's Top 100 Books by the Zimbabwean Library Foundation:
  1. Arrow of God by Chinua Achebe
  2. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  3. Anowa by Ama Atta Aidoo 
  4. The Beautyful Ones are not yet born by Ayi Kwei Armah
  5. A Dry White Season by Andre Brink 
  6. The Life and Times of Michael K by J.M. Coetzee 
  7. Nervous Condition by Tsitsi Dangaremba
  8. The Joys of Motherhood by Buchi Emecheta
  9. The Blood Knot by Athol Fugard 
  10. Burgher's Daughter by Nadine Gordimer
  11. A Question of Power by Bessie Head
  12. Bones by Chenjerai Hove 
  13. Living, Loving and Lying Awake at Night by Sindiwe Magona 
  14. The Cairo Trilogy by Naguib Mahfouz (I: Palace Walk; II: Palace of Desire; III: Sugar Street) 
  15. House of Hunger by Dambudzo Marechera 
  16. Indaba, My Children by Vusamazulu Credo Mutwa
  17. Chaka by Thomas Mofolo
  18. A Grain of Wheat by Ngugi wa Thiongo'o
  19. Labyrinths by Christopher Okigbo 
  20. The Famished Road by Ben Okri
  21. Song of Lawino by Okot P'Bitek 
  22. Woman at Point Zero by Nawal El Saadwai 
  23. Season of Migration to the North by Salih El Tayyib
  24. Third World Express by Mongane Serote 
  25. Death and the King's Horsemen by Wole Soyinka
  26. The Palm-Wine Drinkard by Amos Tutuola
  27. Butterfly Burning by Yvonne Vera 
Other books by African writers:
  1. Summertime by J.M. Coetzee 
  2. The Healers by Ayi Kwei Armah
  3. Osiris Rising by Ayi Kwei Armah 
  4. They Say you are One of Us by Uwem Akpan
  5. Tsoti by Athol Fugard 
  6. Toads for Supper by Chukwuemeka Ike 
  7. Mine Boy by Peter Abrahams
  8. Ake: The Years of Childhood by Wole Soyinka 
The second set of books consist of acclaimed translations:
  1. The Trial by Franz Kafka 
  2. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  3. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  4. The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky 
The third category of books are selected Booker Winners
  1. The Conservationist by Nadine Gordimer
  2. Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee 
  3. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  4. Possession by A.S. Byatt
The fourth set of books is by Nobel Laureates (some have been covered already). Books for this set were taken from different Top 100s such as Modern Library Top 100 Novels; Readers' List and Boards' List; Times Top 100 Novels etc.
  1. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  2. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner 
  3. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner 
  4. Light in August by William Faulkner 
  5. Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner
  6. Beloved by Toni Morrison
  7. Kim by Rudyard Kipling 
  8. A Bend in the River by V.S. Naipaul
  9. A House for Mr. Biswas by V.S. Naipaul
  10. The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing 
  11. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez 
  12. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez 
  13. Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann 
  14. the Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann 
The fifth set of books is other Classics by non-Nobel Laureates:
  1. 1984 by George Orwell
  2. To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee
  3. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  4. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  5. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  6. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
  7. The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood 
  8. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood 
  9. White Teeth by Zadie Smith
The sixth set of books is those that some readers say are difficult to read:
  1. Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon 
  2. The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon 
  3. Mason and Dixon by Thomas Pynchon 
  4. Vineland by Thomas Pynchon 
  5. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace 
  6. Poker by Wittgenstein 
  7. Mistress by Wittgenstein 
  8. Tractatus Logico Philosophicus by Wittgenstein 
  9. Philosophical Investigations by Wittgenstein 
  10. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison 
  11. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert 
  12. The Great Gatsby by Scott F. Fitzgerald
  13. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes 
  14. Moby-Dick by Hermes Melville 
  15. Ulysses by James Joyce 
____________________
This List is not up to 100. The categories add up to 82. Please add the remaining 18. Also if there are some mistakes please let me know. Note: Additions and Revisions have been done here

Monday, October 26, 2009

Blankspot

From behind his
Window
With the gods’ eyes
                        Borrowed
I caught a glimpse of his
Tomorrow
And what would next
                        Follow
In his genes and bone
                        Marrow

His seeds were on the
Floor
The room was without a
Door
And the blank blanket
Immature
The fowls and the cold were
Allured
But to the cold his skin was
Inured

The seeds with the cold
Fought
But the fowls took a
Shot
And what was left wasn’t a
Tot
His last seed was left to
Rot
But all I could see was a
Blankspot 

copyright 2007 by Nana Fredua-Agyeman

Friday, October 23, 2009

23. A Bend in the River: V.S. Naipaul (Not so African)

Title: A Bend in the River
Author: V.S. Naipaul
Publishers: Picador
Genre: Novel (Post-Colonial)
Pages: 326
Year of First Publication: 1979 (this edition, 2002)
Country: United Kingdom

APOLOGIES: Until the present post the objective of this blog has been to promote African writers. African in this sense was defined as 'SOMEONE WHO WAS EITHER BORN ON THE CONTINENT OR WHO BECAME A CITIZEN OF AN AFRICAN COUNTRY' either by adoption or naturalisation. It is based on this premise that I did not review Obama's Dreams from my Father and Kafka's Trial, though I would have loved to. However, I am breaking this rule for just this post. I am doing so because this book has been highly rated and was shortlisted for the 1979 Booker Prize and on the list of many Top 100 novels, including my own Top 100 books to be read in five years. It is also about Africa. 

Sir Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul (born 1938) won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2001 and the Booker Prize in 1971. This makes him the second Nobel Laureate for Literature and the second Booker Prizer winner I am reading, following John Maxwell Coetzee.

A Bend in the River was set in the period immediately following the independence of a country (circa 1963), which Naipaul chose not to name, but which descriptions of its president or the Big-Man, as Naipaul called him, (especially the leopard-style caps, clothes and the staff he carries) together with academic discourse has named as Zaire or present-day DR Congo. The Big-Man with his long African name is no other than Mobutu Sese Sseko Nkuku Ngbendu wa Za Banga and the town located at the bend in the river has also been named as Kisangani.

The narrator, Salim, is a migrant from an Indian Ocean country referred to only as the Coast, who has come to the town at the bend in the river to establish and man a business concern. Later he was joined by Ali or Metty his family slave.

Salim's description of the inhabitants of the bend in the river was brutal and without understanding, criticising them at every chance and likening them to animals, though he never fraternise with these inhabitants to understand them. He never spoke their local patois even though Metty came to speak and fraternise freely with the locals.

According to Salim sex at the town at the bend in the river was as loose as anything one could think of. You could just walk to and knock upon a woman's door and without much talk have sex with her. However, early on, Salim's sex life revolved around prostitutes in brothels. He never saw a stable relationship with the local women possible or even sensible and tried keeping it secret whilst he bedded them. Later, Salim was to have a brutal and awkward affair with the wife (Yvette) of a History professor (Raymond) whose presence he came to enjoy. Salim's chauvinistic attitude was so bad that he had to beat and manhandle Yvette when he thought the relationship had to come to an end. There were times that he likened Yvette to the prostitutes after she has made such harmless comment as praising his sexuality. Salim considered his friend, Mahesh, as stunted by his relationship with Shoba, his girlfriend.

During the upheavals and the radicalization decree by the Big Man that saw most of the enterprises owned by foreigners taken over by the locals, Salim became an ordinary worker in his own shop and decided to deal in illegal activities including gold and ivory to generate some money and leave the town and country. Salim was later to be arrested for dealing in ivory but was set free by an African, Ferdinand, to whom he was to be a mentor.

Life at the bend in the river was pathetic and almost mournful. It had a sinusoidal appearance with a boom followed a depression and famine and upheavals. People became distracted and this distraction and abjection was well observed and captured by Ferdinand:
Nobody's going anywhere. We're all going to hell, and every man knows this in his bones. We're  being killed. Nothing has any meaning. That is why everyone is so frantic. Everyone wants to make his money and run away. But where? That is what is driving people mad.... (page 319)
What I didn't like about this novel is his bundling together of all the people and labelling them as Africans. Africans are a diverse group and it is this sort of novels that make people think that Africa is a country rather than a continent. One town in a given country cannot represent Africa. If Naipaul wanted not to name the country and the town, all he could have done was to state 'the people of the bend in the river...' or 'the people of the country' rather than using Africa as an umbrella description.

My worries and disappointment by this novel has nothing to do with his description of women or the bundling of the inhabitants under an African umbrella. It had more to do with the literary presentation. The monologue nature of the narrative is dull and, though it reads well, it lacks plot. It is more like a rant and reads like a diary entry and could have gone on and on and on without reaching a peak.

I would not want to recommend this book. If you want to read Naipaul, a celebrated author, read a different book as I am going to do. I would be reading, but not blogging, A House for Mr. Biswa.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I will Dance into the Darkness

I posted a poem titled 'Into the Darkness' yesterday, October 21, 2009. However, just as I was reading it something clicked and I was moved to rewrite it. This is the revised version.


After I have searched beyond your haunting eyes
behind that pile of smiles
through the several turns and bends
deeper into your soul
I will dance into the darkness

After you have pushed through my virginal thoughts
coiled within a box of cries
brutishly breaking the cranial lid
far into my cognitive bed
I will dance into darkness

Your embrace is no more you
flushed with conceit and fiery countenance
it would not let me have my space
but after I have pulled my self from your shadows
and my ears from your lips
after I have unwound my hoary heart from your clad
I would dance silently into the darkness

It has been said:
only death must do us part
but you parted your legs for that bull
and suspended your ass so he can swing
and scream and swing like a mad swine

So I would dance silently into the darkness
for should you consistently
entwine your vines around another
when on each market day
she shrewdly discount your manhood
selling it to the lowest bidder?

Or should you shamelessly shoulder such agony
in primordial love
when men you sire or could
seed their corn in your farm?

I will dance discordantly into the darkness

Revised on October 22, 2009

Friday, October 16, 2009

Winners of ImageNations' Book of the Quarter

A poll was conducted for all books that were reviewed on ImageNations from July to September 2009 and which had ratings of 4.5 or higher. In all nine (9) books excluding a book on poetry, Dimples on the Sand, by Henry Ajumeze and a non-fiction political book, Kwame Nkrumah: Vision and Tragedy, by David Rooney were selected. The poll closed today October 16, 2009 at two o'clock GMT.

In all there were fourteen votes and Half of a Yellow Sun won with 60% of the votes. This was followed by Purple Hibiscus, which won 21% and Two Thousand Seasons (14%). There were two collection of short stories: The Thing Around Your Neck (7%) and Mr. Happy and the Hammer of God (7%).

NOVEL

Half of a Yellow Sun is ImageNations' Book of the Quarter. Half of a Yellow Sun is Adichie's second novel following Purple Hibiscus. It tells of the human side of the Biafra war. The novel won the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2007. Click to read my review of Half of a Yellow Sun.

Brief Biography of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was born on 15th September 1977 in Enugu, Nigeria, the fifth of six children to Igbo parents, Grace Ifeoma and James Nwoye Adichie. While the family's ancestral hometown is Abba in Anambra State, Chimamanda grew up in Nsukka, in the house formerly occupied by Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe. Chimamanda's father worked at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Her mother was mother was the first female registrar at the same institution.

Chimamanda completed her secondary education at the University's school, receiving several academic prizes. She went on to study medicine and pharmacy at the University of Nigeria for a year and a half. During this period, she edited The Compass, a magazine run by the University's Catholic medical students.

At the age of nineteen, Chimamanda left for the United States. She gained a scholarship to study communication at Drexel University in Philadelphia for two years, and she went on to pursue a degree in communication and political science at Eastern Connecticut State University.

Chimamanda graduated summa cum laude from Eastern in 2001, and then completed a master's degree in creative writing at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore. It is during her senior year at Eastern that she started working on her first novel, Purple Hibiscus, which was released in October 2003. Her second novel, Half of a Yellow Sun, was published in 2006. In 2009, Chimamanda released her third novel, The Thing Around Your Neck, which is a collection of short stories.


Chimamanda was a Hodder fellow at Princeton University during the 2005-2006 academic year, and earned an MA in African Studies from Yale University in 2008.

________________
Note: All three of Chimamanda Adichie's novels have been reviewed on this blog.

SHORT STORIES

Though there were two collection of short stories and both had the same votes, ImageNations Rated Mr. Happy and the Hammer of God above The Thing Around Your Neck. Thus ImageNations Short Story Collection of the Quarter goes to Mr. Happy and the Hammer of God. Click here to read a review

Brief Biography of Martin Egblewogbe
Martin Egblewogbe presently lectures Physics at the University of Ghana and is also a PhD student. He is a poet, a novelist, an astronomist and many others. He is currently working on the Ghana Poetry project and a coordinator for the Talk Party, which is a fortnightly meeting of Poets and Literary folks. Martin has published numerous poems and short stories in different magazines and newspapers in Ghana and elsewhere. I interviewed the author Martin Egblewogbe on this blog. Click to read the interview.

POETRY
Only one collection of poetry was reviewed. Dimples on the Sand is Henry Ajumeze's first published hard copy poetry collection. Before this he had published many other poems at different sites and anthologies. He is first an Anioma citizen and then a Nigerian. His poetry identifies with his roots, Anioma, with poems littered with traditions and symbols of his people. He is more of a speaker for his people and writes as a matter of necessity.

Read my interview with Henry Ajumeze here...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Featured post

Njoroge, Kihika, & Kamiti: Epochs of African Literature, A Reader's Perspective

Source Though Achebe's Things Fall Apart   (1958) is often cited and used as the beginning of the modern African novel written in E...