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