Posts tagged bookreviews

BOOK REVIEW–And After Many Days

Title: And After Many Days
Author: Jowhor Ile
Publisher: Tim Duggan books
Review
The book traces the Utu family in PortHarcourt, Nigeria. The setting of the conflict period is 1995. It’s an interesting tale of children growing up in a privileged middle class family in Nigeria. The oldest son, seventeen year old Paul gets missing and we’re confronted with a personal loss and on a larger scale, political loss.
Political loss as evidenced by failure in virtually all sectors of the society. I think it’s despairing that the challenges faced back then in Nigeria, mostly as a result of political failure are all very much present in this day – even worse. The plot is rich and devastating. It however doesn’t hit you badly until the climax.
And after many days lends credence to the voice about the Niger Delta crisis in Nigeria; the development of the crisis and it’s impact (oil spills, gas flares, western oil companies arrival, the humiliating and harrowing experiences the military forces the members of the community through, the desecration of all indigenous land and even streams by the companies) – all from an insider’s point of view.
There’s also an exposure to the way the military government ran things at that time.
Jowhor is deserving of his award in the Etisalat prize for fiction in 2017. He is a delicate story-teller. This is his debut novel. The book employs a seamless technique of moving back and forth through time. The book has an intriguing and hooking opening, coupled with the author’s timeless and endearing way of describing events. It’s written in a third person omniscient perspective.
The characters are absolutely believeable and they draw the reader in. I think most Nigerians would relate with the upbringing of the Utus children. This book takes you back in time to your childhood.
One last credit: it had me checking the dictionary for the meaning of some words. What else can I ask for?
Excerpts

“You might be carrying a document instructing you to be sold and you won’t know it. Won’t read and can’t read would land you in the same place”

God forbid!” He spat out. He looked like the sort of man for whom all strong emotions came out looking like anger. Ajie couldn’t tell if he was angry that Paul was missing or angry with Paul for going missing or whether he was angry at all. Whichever way, it was clear his sympathy was with Ma “

“But whatever there was to know about desire and it’s cost was beyond Ajie then. He was at that time completely passionate and pure. He imagined himself, his brother, and his sister to be people who would shoot into the world and burn, fiery arrows set free by their parents from their home here at number 11. they would love greatly and do useful things. Bbi would become rich and important and build houses and hospital for the poor. Paul would simply change the world”

“When misfortune befalls you, people secretly blame you. Ajie noticed this. People can’t help it. They do it so they can believe it won’t happen to them. They haven’t done whatever it is you did to deserve this suffering.”

I like this book. I generously give it 5stars.
P.s for the those who’ve read the book: what do you think of Bendic and Ma’s parenting style?
Yours sincerely,
Debby.
So tell me, what do you think?

BOOK REVIEW–HOMEGOING

Title: HOMEGOING
Author: Yaa Gyasi
Publisher/publication date: Alfred A. Knopf/2016
ISBN: 9781101947142
Pages: 310 pages(my copy)
Blurb
Two half-sisters, Effia and Esi, are born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and lives in comfort in the palatial rooms of cape coast castle. Unbeknownst to Effia, her sister, Esi, is imprisoned beneath her in the castle’s dungeons, sold with thousand s of others into the Gold Coast’s booming slave trade, and shipped off to America, where her children and grandchildren will be raised in slavery.
One thread of Homegoing follows Effia’s descendants through centuries of warfare in Ghana, as the Fante and Asante nations wrestle with the slave trade and British colonization.
The other thread follows Esi and her grandchildren into America. From the plantations of the south to the civil war and the great migration, from the coal mines of Pratt city, Alabama, to the jazz clubs and dope houses of twentieth century Harlem, right up through the present day, Homegoing makes history visceral, and captures, with singular and stunning immediacy, how the memory of a captivity came to be inscribed in the soul of a nation.
Review
Can I request that you go back to read the blurb again. Patiently this time. Word for word, in case you sped through. Thank you.
Homegoing is a heartrending read. It follows two sisters separated at birth and explores if either of them ever had much hope as the white man breathed down their necks. Each alternating chapter traces the two generations through the evolvement of slave trade and there is an aching cry for the enslaved and those involved in selling their own brothers to the white man. Each chapter reads like a short story of people whose lives are scarred by the actions of other humans like themselves. Its haunting because just when you get drawn into the characters and empathise with their plight, the story for that person’s generation just ceases.
In short, it traces the legacy of slave trade in people’s every day lives and is a perspective of racial history. Life during the tribal wars in 1700, the transatlantic slave trade, the effect or lack of effect of the fugitive slave act, and how oppression of the blacks by the white shifted from that of the body to that of the mind.
We read of the way a people’s mother tongue was whipped out of their mouths; five lashes for every one word of Twi their children would unwittingly speak. We’re enraged at how humans are shackled to owners by a piece of paper so declaring them; people who in their own rights, should have mattered.

you want to know what weakness is? Weakness is treating someone as though they belong to you. Strength is knowing that everyone belongs to themselves”
”but for the rest of her life Esi would see a smile on a white face and remember the one the soldier gave her before taking her to his quarters, how white men smiling just meant more evil was coming with the next wave”

I don’t know if a reader can read this and justify certain actions ever again in their lives.
For me, Esi’s story was particularly haunting as she saw part of the undoing of her own people by her hands, and didn’t know it for what it was, until it was completed.
Yaa Gyasi has this as her debut novel and I say its worthy of praise. Effort is clearly put in (I saw a quote where Gyasi said she wrote the most part of the book in a dark and dingy room in her house, giving off a dungeon vibe).Her language is the envy of other writers, and her story-telling skills seamless.
There is a family tree at the start of the book which is very important for when the reader begins to get winded keeping up with who’s who from each generation.
Some people lament at the way each character’s story ends just when the reader starts to fall in love. I suppose that this is a way of stating the obvious; evil would not give closure. Mothers are separated from their children, lovers are killed or sold and the reader wants closure?
For those who have read this book, these characters remain my favourite: Esi, Ness, Kojo, Majorie.
It’ll help if you already know one or two things about the American civil war, slave trade, racism. If you don’t, I suppose this book can be a background for further learning. I recommend this book for the preservation of history. I rate the book 4.5 stars out of 5.
Excerpts:
”It was one thing to research something, another thing entirely to have lived it.”
”When he was younger, his father told him that black people didn’t like water because they were brought over on slave ships. What did a black man want to swim for? The ocean floor was already littered with black men”
”Esi stared at her mother then, and it was as though she were seeing her for the first time. maame was not a whole woman. There were large swaths of her spirit missing, and no matter how much Esi loved her, they both knew in that moment that love could never return what maame had lost. And Esi knew too that her mother would die rather than run into the woods ever again, die before capture, die even if it meant in her dying that Esi would inherit that unspeakable sense of loss, learn what it meant to be un-whole”
”Ness would fall asleep to the images of men being thrown into the Atlantic ocean like anchors attached to nothing: no land, no people, no worth”
‘the mud wall of the dungeon made all time equal. There was no sunlight. Darkness was day and night and everything in between. Sometimes there were so many bodies stacked into the women dungeon that they all had to lie, stomach down, so that women could be stacked on top of them”
don’t matter if you was or wasn’t. all they gotta do is say you was. That’s all they gotta do. You think cuz you all muscled up, you safe? Naw, dem white folks can’t stand the sight of you. Walkin’ round free as can be. Don’t nobody want to see a black man look like you walkin’ round proud as a peacock. Like you ain’t got a lick of fear in you… I’ma tell you, war may be over but it ain’t ended”
”you have to understand, H. the day you called me another woman’s name, I thought ain’t I been through enough? Ain’t just about everything I ever had been taken away from me? My freedom. My family. My body. And now I cant even own my name? aint I deserve to be Ethe, to you at least if nobody else? My mama gave me that name herself. I spent six good years with her before they sold me to Louisiana to work them sugarcanes. All I had of her then was my name. that was all I had of myself too. And you wouldn’t even give me that.”
”She wanted to explain that at home they had a different word for African-Americans, akata. The akata people were different from Ghanaians, too long gone from the mother continent to continue to call it the mother continent. She wanted to tell Mrs.Pinkston that she could feel herself being pulled away too, almost akata, too long gone from Ghana to be called a Ghanaian. But the look on Mrs. Pinkston’s face stopped her from explaining herself at all.”
So people, what do you think? Read this? Interested in doing so? Or do you have a comment about the slave trade? Just want to say hello? Lol. Comment people. Thank you!

Book review–Born A Crime

Happy new month precious people. This is the third of twelve chapters in your self-authored book. How’s it going?
Greetings from this side. We’re reviewing a book today. Don’t forget to share your thoughts at the end and share the post. 💕💕
Title: Born A Crime
Author: Trevor Noah
Publisher: Spigel and Grau (2016)
Pages:  252(my e-book copy)
Review

I dug into this book in the basic expectation that it would have a bit of humour as the viral hum said.
I took no time to research the author or think what the title could mean but by the time I saw the import of the title in the book, I decided that Trevor is intelligent.
Born A Crime is Trevor Noah’s first book. It is in fact, his memoir.
Trevor’s birth was evidence of his parents crime unlike most other people whose birth is often evidence of their parent’s love.
I appreciate the use of imagery in the book. I was with him at nine years when his mum wrapped herself around the toddler and jumped with (/pushed) Trevor from a moving vehicle.
I was with him when he went looking for his father in great anxiety, at twenty four years and I was there when he got relieved his father wasn’t any different from how he’d known him to be in his teenage years.
This book explores the subject of apartheid and it walks you through it.
It reveals the strategy employed by the whites in pitting the locals against themselves, in order to rule them all.

 Bitterness festered. For decades those feelings were held in check by a common enemy. Then apartheid fell, Mandela walked free, and black South Africa went to war with itself…”

You’re walked through the different streets in SouthAfrica and you come to discover racism. You’re in the schools and you understand it starts from there. The troubles of racism; being black, white and coloured.
Other than the subject of Apartheid and Racism, this book also explores Motherhood, strongly.

“My mom thought having a child was going to be like having a partner, but every child is born the center of its own universe, incapable of understanding the world beyond its own wants and needs, and I was no different”

The unselfish love of a mother for her child and the question of reciprocal of such love:

“People say all the time that they’d do anything for the people they love. But would you really? Would you do anything? Would you give everything? I don’t know that a child knows that kind of selfless love. A mother, yes. A mother will clutch her children and jump from a moving car to keep them from harm. She will do it without thinking. But I don’t think the child knows how to do that, not instinctively. It’s something the child has to learn.”

This book is written as a tribute to Trevor’s mother- Nombuyiselo, who weathered every challenge beautifully. She was his pal(still is); spoke to him as an intelligent being, gave him a chance to explore, to be, to speak his mind, beat him and explained why .

Whenever the riots broke out, all our neighbors would wisely hole up behind closed doors. But not my mom. She’d head straight out, and as we’d inch our way past the blockades, she’d give the rioters this look. Let me pass. I’m not involved in this shit. She was unwavering in the face of danger. That always amazed me. It didn’t matter that there was a war on our doorstep. She had things to do, places to be. It was the same stubbornness that kept her going to church despite a broken-down car. There could be five hundred rioters with a blockade of burning tires on the main road out of Eden Park, and my mother would say, “Get dressed. I’ve got to go to work. You’ve got to go to school.” “But aren’t you afraid?” I’d say. “There’s only one of you and there’s so many of them. “Honey, I’m not alone,” she’d say. “I’ve got all of Heaven’s angels behind me.”.

There’s a lot to learn of the inner workings under apartheid regime and even though this is my own focus, you’d meet lots of people who’ve read this book and only remember it for its humour.
Some are fans of this book for the life tips it has to offer.
Basically I’d quote the whole book because I’m here trying to advocate for basic knowledge of the relevant things; of which history always ranks high. However, I cannot quote the whole book.
I rate the book 4.5 out of 5 stars. It’s an easy read with underlying depth.
Excerpts

If we weren’t at school or work or church, we were out exploring. My mom’s attitude was “I chose you, kid. I brought you into this world, and I’m going to give you everything I never had.” She poured herself into me. She would find places for us to go where we didn’t have to spend money.
She refused to be bound by ridiculous ideas of what black people couldn’t or shouldn’t do.
world. My mom raised me as if there were no limitations on where I could go or what I could do. When I look back I realize she raised me like a white kid—not white culturally, but in the sense of believing that the world was my oyster, that I should speak up for myself, that my ideas and thoughts and decisions mattered
My mother showed me what was possible. The thing that always amazed me about her life was that no one showed her. No one chose her. She did it on her own. She found her way through sheer force of will.

We tell people to follow their dreams, but you can only dream of what you can imagine, and, depending on where you come from, your imagination can be quite limited.

The smallest thing could prompt her. I’d walk through the house on the way to my room and say, “Hey, Mom” without glancing up. She’d say, “No, Trevor! You look at me. You acknowledge me. Show me that I exist to you, because the way you treat me is the way you will treat your woman. Women like to be noticed. Come and acknowledge me and let me know that you see me. Don’t just see me when you need something.”

“I don’t regret anything I’ve ever done in life, any choice that I’ve made. But I’m consumed with regret for the things I didn’t do, the choices I didn’t make, the things I didn’t say. We spend so much time being afraid of failure, afraid of rejection. But regret is the thing we should fear most. Failure is an answer. Rejection is an answer. Regret is an eternal question you will never have the answer to.”

“Hustling is to work what surfing the Internet is to reading. If you add up how much you read in a year on the Internet—tweets, Facebook posts, lists—you’ve read the equivalent of a shit ton of books, but in fact you’ve read no books in a year. When I look back on it, that’s what hustling was. It’s maximal effort put into minimal gain. It’s a hamster wheel”

“The way my mother always explained it, the traditional man wants a woman to be subservient, but he never falls in love with subservient women. He’s attracted to independent women

In any society built on institutionalized racism, race-mixing doesn’t merely challenge the system as unjust, it reveals the system as unsustainable and incoherent. Race-mixing proves that races can mix—and in a lot of cases, want to mix. Because a mixed person embodies that rebuke to the logic of the system, race-mixing becomes a crime worse than treason.”

 “…If you’re in an environment that is positive and progressive, you too will become that. I keep telling you to change your life, and you don’t”

“In the hood, gangsters were your friends and neighbors. You knew them. You talked to them on the corner, saw them at parties. They were a part of your world. You knew them from before they became gangsters. It wasn’t, “Hey, that’s a crack dealer.” It was, “Oh, little Jimmy’s selling crack now.” The weird thing about these gangsters was that they were all, at a glance, identical. They drove the same red sports car. They dated the same beautiful eighteen-year-old girls. It was strange. It was like they didn’t have personalities; they shared a personality. One could be the other, and the other could be the one. They’d each studied how to be that gangster”

Growing up in a home of abuse, you struggle with the notion that you can love a person you hate, or hate a person you love. It’s a strange feeling. You want to live in a world… where you either hate them or love them, but that’s not how people are.



That’s it. Any excerpt you particularly agree with or disagree with? Have you read this book? Are you interested? What are you currently reading? Let’s know your thoughts.


Love and Warmth,
Debby.