Monday, September 30, 2013

Readers' Top Ten - Celestine Nudanu (of Reading Pleasure)

About Celestine Nudanu: Celestine Nudanu is an avid blogger; she blogs at Reading Pleasure. Her passions are books, reading and writing poetry, not necessarily in that order. She says also that she would rather buy books than clothes. When she is not doing any of these she can be found at the University of Professional Studies, Accra, Ghana, where she is the Administrative Systems Coordinator.

Below is Celestine's selection of books. Note that I have linked the titles and authors to posts within ImageNations, where available. My views and his might not be the same and so beware when reading and judging them.
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The list of my top ten African Reads is long overdue and I can only apologise to Nana for the delay in submitting it. With that out of the way, as I know I'm forgiven, I can say that I have read many books, of African and non African authors long before I started blogging last year. I cannot even remember the contents and authors of quite a number of them. But all the same I will try and list the top ten of novels or books that I have read in the more recent past and in no particular order of preference:

The Concubine by Elechi Amadi
I read this ages ago but it has haunted me ever since. I believe strongly that Amadi meant it as a love story, not necessarily romance, but a love story all the same with an African flavour of the Igbo culture and traditions that ultimately lead to the tragic situations in the novel. It is a must read for lovers of authentic African love story and the .

Is it possible for a modern woman to want it all and have it all? Esi Sekyi, a modern career woman, highly educated, financially independent and liberated divorces her husband Oko because she is dissatisfied with her marriage. As she puts it, Oko does not give her space and make demands on her time. Ironically and sadly, Esi gets the space and freedom she craves but realises that these are not enough to give her happiness. She comes to the sad realisation that material comforts are not a substitute for a warm bed.

I've been quite lengthy here because in writing Changes the author did a eating-of-words; she had thought love stories were not serious stuff. And Changes is a love story; the story of modernity versus traditional expectations of the wife. It would be interesting to do an analytical comparison of Changes and The Concubine.

For me, this book was an eye opener to the Biafran war. Until I read Adichie's awesome novel, I had never read anything deeply about the war. Adichie masterfully props the war in the background as readers follow the life of two sisters, their loves, aspirations, and disappointments. The impact of the war on their lives is profoundly written; how each sister is able to cope with the stress and strife of their predicament is deeply woven into the fabric of their Igbo background and upbringing. I highly recommend Half of a Yellow Sun.

This novel had such a haunting effect on me. Throughout the novel, Buchi Emecheta makes good use of dramatic irony to point out the disappointments of Nnu Ego, the protagonist, in every aspect of her sojourns in life, including the betrayal of her children. The title of the novel itself, The Joys of Motherhood, is ironic, when viewed in the light of the story. 

A powerfully compelling tragedy and a Classic by the African Writers Series, . The Joys of Motherhood is the fourth novel from the Nigerian-born writer and is recognised as one of Africa’s 100 Best Books of the 20th Century.

Tales from Different Tails by Nana Awere Damoah
I simply love this collection of short stories! To simply say that Awere Damoah’s collection is campus-based love stories intended to send the reader through nostalgic journeys, or intended to make the reader wish that he had been in the university to taste of the experiences described would be an injustice to the author, because the stories are more than that. More often than not, couples who meet on university campuses and fall in love end up marrying after they leave campus and it is only fair to conclude that, Awere is justified in basing his love stories on the university campus

However, Awere’s collections also touch on compassion, hurt, betrayal, loyalty, trust, friendship poverty, evil and courage; these are traits or characteristics that drive the human will and actions. Beautifully lacing all these together is humour and fun.

Awere’s use of language relaxes the reader, taking him to familiar sites where they meet your everyday kind of person. The narrative is straightforward, yet deep, interspersed with rich proverbs and anecdotes reflecting the author’s deep insight and knowledge of the Ghanaian culture and traditions. The campus lingua in the narrative of the campus scenes is a bonus that had me reeling. 

Tales From Different Tails comes highly recommended for all, both adults and young adults.

Faceless is a well researched novel written by Amma Darko, about the horrific murder of a child prostitute. It is also the tragic, unfortunate story of a social canker in Ghana and indeed, the bane of developing countries, streetism in a metropolitan and urban environment. It is a powerful social commentary into the multifaceted issues underlying streetism, that is broken homes, rape, poverty, illiteracy AIDS, etc. 

The author leaves no stone unturned in exposing and analysing the characters for their various behaviours. The narration draws on real-life events and places/slums and the characters are real and believable enough. Though some, like Poison are stereotyped I do believe the portrayal of such characters highlight the predominant truth and nastiness of the whole streetism and gang phenomena.

Amma Darko is a force to reckon with and I recommend this book wholeheartedly.

Most Eligible Bachelor by Empi Baryeh
I do not know if the romance genre qualifies here, but seeing that I love that genre so well and almost all my writing go that way, I thought to slip in Empi Baryeh's Most Eligible Bachelor among my top ten. And my oh my! I could not stop when I started till I had read the whole piece of raw chemistry and thundering passion between Lord Mackenzie and Chantelle Sah. 

I think Empi is brave, yes, brave. As I said on my blog, she has broken through the myth surrounding romance and sex by coming out with a novel that freely highlights the relationship between a man and a woman in love who are not afraid to explore their attraction to each other and their sexuality, in vivid imagery. Empi’s description of the sex scenes in the novel is done in tasty yet simple language that is not offensive to the reader and her sensitivity to the Ghanaian culture is commendable. 

Just try Most Eligible Bachelor and you will not be disappointed!

The Beggars Strike by Aminata Sow Fall
The Beggars' Strike details a society where beggars discourage tourism by their filthy appearance. The government decide to rid the city of begging and a policy is implemented through police tactics of harassment, physical abuse, and imprisonment of the beggars. This unbearable situation prompts the beggars to organize a strike in which they refuse to return to the city streets to beg for alms, an integral part of the society's Islamic structure. The beggars are disgusted that they have to pay the price for tourism and economic progress. What happens next is like a comedy of errors that lead to deaths and more deaths of the beggars.

I found this book to be short ( about 99 pages), easy to read, fun and yet deep and powerful. Don't miss it. 

I believe better commentators have said it all about this wonderful book and there is not much I can add. Yes, it had such a profound impact on me that I cannot forget. Okonkwo's pride, bravery, inner conflicts and struggles in the face of the loud footsteps of the Whiteman on his beloved land; his inability to be in command of situations as all that he holds his dear, his culture, heritage, family seem to slip from his grasp, make a powerfully poignant and haunting read. I can only say he was a man in the true sense of the word. A true tragic hero. 

Things Fall Apart is a Classic that all should read

Arrow of God by Chinua Achebe
Arrow of God describes the downfall of a traditional leader, Ezeulu, at the hands of colonialism. The central conflicts of the novel revolve around the struggle between continuity and change, In the end it seems as if change won the day as even the son of the chief Priest, Ezeulu, goes to join the Whiteman's religion. Another moving narrative by the late Achebe, Arrow of God was masterfully written and I recommend it to all Achebe fans and many more.
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I have linked some of the titles to posts within ImageNations, where such reviews are available. Note that my views on these books may differ from Nana Yaw's and so this must be borne in mind when reading them.

7 comments:

  1. We have quite a few books in common.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am thinking of compiling the top ten most common books among all the entries after a year and sharing with it as the ultimate 'must reads'.

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  2. If Celestine has chosen them they must be good.

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  3. You made my evening, Celestine and Nana. I am still smiling, thanks!

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  4. This is wonderful. I've followed Celestine for a year now, I've found her knowledge and insights most valuable to me. Besides she's cool and a talented writer as well. Also, I'd be very interested in the final top ten "must reads"! Thank you, Penny.

    ReplyDelete

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