Month: July 2018

YOU ARE NEAR YET YOU ARE FAR

YOU ARE NEAR YET YOU ARE FAR by NKIACHA ATEMNKENG

‘Travel between both Nigeria and Cameroon is supposed to be easy since citizens of both countries do not require entrance visas. However, the land route between the Cameroonian border town. Ebok and the Nigerian border town, Ikom is currently barricaded. Don’t ask why.’

‘You finally get jealous of the damn Sanja and feel like peeling it off your body and disappearing into the restroom. But if you peel it off just to pee, you will become naked and everybody at Ake will embark on a screaming spree. “Mad writer! Wahala dey for here o. Dr Dami, please bring that your mad bus. Carry y’im go. A man’s body is not a country!’

I finished reading this piece and the magazine it was published in, in June. Its incomplete review has sat in my draft since. In a bid to clear out my draft I’m published my thoughts about this second person travelogue. It makes me smile that the author’s first name sounds Igbo because of the irony the first paragraph presents. He began his non-fiction story stating many Nigerians drummed ‘you look and sound Nigerian’ into his Cameroonian ears. This was delightful reading this travelogue written by an African visiting Nigeria.

Halfway through this creative non-fiction piece I’d highlighted various honest paragraphs and comical sentences.  I just knew this is my favorite work from the Saraba Magazine: Issue 22-OPEN. This travelogue made me reminisce about my tour of Obudu, Ikom and Calabar in Cross River State. Where no one could answer my questions about why the Cameroonian border was closed. Or why people kept asking if I was Nigerian.

Apart from the humorous yet observant tone and ironic experiences of the narrator. Its the second person point of view used makes this read very compelling. Apart from the Literary Exchange Programme, he visits the Ake Arts and Literature Festival. Since I missed the ‘This F-Word’ themed fifth festival, his narration made me feel like I was there. I attended the sensational festival through his thoughts, reflections, dialogues and famous Sanja. His bravery in publishing a food review that didn’t crown Nigerian Jollof Rice ruler mirrors his candid appraisal of Nigeria-Cameroon relations. I felt near to this Douala boy, involved in his discussions about culture, literature, geography, politics. Yet I am far, far away in Lagos.

 

 

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THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR

THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR BY NICOLA YOON

“People spend their whole lives looking for love. Poems and songs and entire novels are written about it. But how can you trust something that can end as suddenly as it begins?”

“All teenagers separate from their parents. To grow up is to grow apart.”

“Growing up and seeing your parents’ flaws is like losing your religion”

“Sometimes your world shakes so hard, it’s difficult to imagine that everyone else isn’t feeling it too.”

 

Its summary? A Guide To Falling In Love Within A Day: Using Science and Fate. 20% into the ebook I began falling in love with the writing. I mean science and history, optimism versus realism, fate and hope, family, love and life’s disappointments themes written in beautiful sentences.

‘He was some exotic planet and I was his favorite satellite.

But he’s no planet, just the final fading light of an already dead star.

And I’m not a satellite. I’m space junk, hurtling as far as I can away from him.’

What’s not to love?! The first person and omniscient point of views used to write this YA Romance novel makes the story robust and intriguing..just like life. How many times do you see a black teenage heroine who is a science geek, realistic about life and purses her goals relentlessly? Neither is an American Korean hopeless romantic and poet trying to choose his own path an object of denied affection. The minor characters are flawed with regrettable histories and surprising futures I get to peek into. Yet these flaws and some mistakes set in motion events that influence Natasha and Daniel love story. For a major part of the book, Natasha and I share an open secret Daniel is unaware of.

Certain chapters named Evoluntionary History discussed eerie, hair, multiverses, four minutes, etc. I enjoyed the writing style Nicola Yoon used. I got introduced to her combination styled writing in Everything Everything. Both main characters narrated their tales using lists, essays, dialogues, soliloquy. The omniscient point of view used imagery, flashback, irony to enliven the book’s themes. The novel is set in New York geographically the characters and I trekked Times Square, visited Harlem amongst other places in a day. In that same day, I got to time travel to the past Jamaica and Korea then future histories unlived. Themes of self-realization, love, loss, family, failed hope teach much. I learnt about the science of human existence, cosmic love, immigrant realities, making apple pie and how mundane romanticized coincidences are. Two days ago I animatedly told a friend how I felt it was written about my existence. I’m a tech enthusiast and hopeful romantic who always has brief cosmic love experiences.

The Sun Is Also A Star has earned four fireworks. As with Nicola Yoon’s style, the novel ends unexpectedly. In all the multiverses where I imagined various ends, it wasn’t supposed to end realistically unpredictable! Or did it, the last chapter makes me ask fate.

I’M LOVING YA ROMANCE

Young Adult Romance is a genre of Romance popularly called YA Romance by book lovers. It’s a genre I got curious about after reading book reviews, a blog tour, Something like Summer by Jay Bell, Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon, The Last Days at Forcados High School by A.H Mohammed and To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han.

This July I decided to add reading books from two new genres to my 2k18 reading goals. YA romance and African Horror were my picks because I had enjoyed the works I’ve read so far.  I’m a lover of erotica, chicklit, afrofuturism, queer, historical and western romance, travelogues, legal thrillers and coming-of-age books. Some days back some friends and I were lamenting about the cliché plots of many Mill and Boons novels we read as girls.

Having extraordinary narratives exploring unconventional experiences of characters of color is what I love about YA Romance. Little wonder many of these bestselling YA Romance novels are being adapted into films. I adored The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon that I read it in just one day! Everyday by David Levithan and P.I Still Love You by Jenny Han are ebooks I’m currently thoroughly enjoying.  I’d like to read Everything Leads to You by Nina Lacour, When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon,  Meet Cute, a YA Romance anthology edited by Jennifer L. Armentrout and Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi.

Most YA Romance novels and their reviews I have read narrate that we all have many types of loves, quests for life that don’t always end the way we expect. This abrupt yet robust style is one I found very fulfilling while reading some ebooks lately. The characters are so endearing! I love reflective works and many YA Romance make me travel, explore, muse, experience life and love. I really love chicklit and romance novels, poems and anthologies. why? These genres feed my hopeful romantic self with laughter, love, faith and lessons. I like it when a book teaches its reader to love and believe in themself This is a common theme with many Young Adult Romances I have read this July.

I haven’t began reading African Horror works yet. I only have Palmwine Drunkard by Amos Tutuola, a classic and books by the genre’s popular author Nuzo Onoh. After reading many African horror flash fiction on a blog a thousand midnights ago, I got fascinated with this genre. I do recall listening to Radio Lagos afternoon story time every week day. The presenter would read  Forest of a Thousand Daemons: A Hunter’s Saga by D.O Fagunwa in Yoruba. I came to cherish this Nigerian Literature Classic that improved my appreciation of Yoruba language and painted African mystical adventures in my mind forever. I will soon make a African Horror book list. If you have any book recommendations for both genres do comment them below.

 

Images source: Amethyst Saw

 

AN AFRICAN MAN I MISS

I miss your laugh. I miss listening to our playlist, Strawberry Sunshine. I miss how you clean up my kitchen to my level of ordered perfection . My tongue misses your balls..Lord they are unique! I miss pulling your beard. I miss rolling my eyes at you when you buy chocolate because you are sure my snobbish addicted ass might like it. I miss looking at you admirably gaze at me when I talk about issues I’m passionate about. I miss taking a spoon of your party Jollof..okay three spoons, before I begin eating my Amala and Ogunfe. I miss our lunch dates..gosh I don’t eat there anymore because you were a major ingredient to its flavour. I miss strutting around in white cotton thongs and bodysuits while you call me your Goddess.
I miss closing my eyes when you whisper my name. Only my parents call my name so exquisitely. I miss enjoying the many ways you show interests in my wants with credit alerts. I miss, I miss, oh I miss how my nipples bud browner when you say passionate and romantic words to me in Hausa. I miss praying for your soul while you give me reallllyyyy great, toe-curling, back arching head. Lotus misses dripping on your bearded chin. I miss how patient you are with my sporadic silliness. I miss us being goofy in the shower. How do you never see that splash of ice cold water everytime?! I miss I miss you. but I’m not so pathetic that I’ll look for you in another man. I miss how you cheer me on, telling hard truths and being so supportive. You are empathic, compassionate, loyal, fair, ambitious, emotionally intelligent, too much for an African man. I’m patiently waiting to show you how much I’ve missed you when you’re back. So I can watch your eyes brighten like a million phone flashes of a concert crowd when I tell you I love you.