December 26, 2009

In Dependence by Sarah Ladipo Manyika | Book Review

"In Dependence" begins in the sixties, the early years of Nigeria’s independence, the days of postal services and journeying by ship. Tayo Ajayi is escorted by ecstatic family members to the Lagos dockyard to catch his ship to England where he has a scholarship to study at Oxford. Before he leaves, his mother whispers to him advice typical of Nigerian parents: “…Pay attention to your studies, and don’t be distracted by women.” In the typical fashion of red-blooded Nigerian males he ignores this counsel and unexpectedly falls in love with a white girl. Their relationship seems doomed from the start. They are in 20th century England when racial feelings are still strong and interracial unions attract unconcealed hostility and sometimes violence from everyday people and even policemen. Their relationship raises eyebrows among Tayo’s Nigerian friends and he dreads the reaction he will receive at home when he introduces Vanessa to his family as his bride to be. Just as it seems like they are ready to jointly face Tayo’s parents, they break up and Vanessa leaves Nigeria in a fury. She moves to Senegal and gains prominence because of her fantastic writing while Ajayi marries and continues his academic pursuits that also bring him into limelight. After decades of joyless marriages, unsuccessful parenting, “What-if’s” and keeping tabs on one another, they reach out to each other ….

This book is stirring; it’s a beautiful story of two people from different racial backgrounds who let societal pressure push them apart. You can immediately tell that Manyika is very familiar with the issues at hand and she handles them beautifully with a prose that has a British feel to it. Ajayi is the representative of young Nigerians living abroad who can’t decide if they should follow their heart or follow the expectations of their family and the Nigerian society with regards to who to marry. Guys this is NOT a silly romance novel. It’s an interesting book that you’ll enjoy and hopefully learn from especially if you’re living abroad. Ladies, this is not an attempt by Manyika to mimic romance novels. This is a book that is very close to home in its storytelling and I am sure you’ll identify with and empathize with its characters. Don’t worry about a “Nollywood ending”, "In Dependence" is splendid in that respect too. I have to say this to light readers: The characters in this book are sometimes in academic or secular circles and you might come across monologues and dialogues you might feel like breezing through. Whatever you do don’t drop the book. "In Dependence" is one of the best books I have read this year. Pick up this book.

[Image via Legendpress]

8 comments:

  1. I have already picked up the book, but have two books before I get to it. Maybe you could review my book? BUT, it is a romance novel...LOL

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  2. Definitely! I just have to do it before school resumes in Jan. I live in Texas though and Nigerian books are hard to come by so I do not know how to pick up yours. Thanks a lot for commenting.

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  3. In Dependence is a real nice one. Manyika actually said she wrote it over 7years or so. And one can feel that sense of something maturing/that has matured. It's a good book. And this review does it justice! Good luck with Harare North...you beat me to that. Would be nice to read your thoughts,as usual...

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  4. @ Temi - Thanks a lot. The book is really nice, I would like to see it made into a movie. I haven't beat you to it until you see a post on my blogsite (laugh). I'll get it done as soon as possible.

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  5. nice...keep it up!
    Myne's book can be gotten from
    http://www.authorhouse.com/Bookstore/ItemDetail.aspx?bookid=67912.

    Have a good one!

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  6. Cool. Your review confirms the hype and blitz surrounding this book. Hopefully,I'll get it to buy next time I hit Lag.

    @Myne, is your book in Nigeria yet?

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  7. Hey, i think the book is gonna top the best-seller list in no time. Am Nura Ingawa, a finalist in University of Maiduguri, Nigeria, and am writing my final year essay on it. It's really a great first novel. Kudos to my heroine. Bye.

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