January 29, 2017

Welcome to Lagos by Chibundu Onuzo | Book Review

In Chibundu Onuzo's Welcome to Lagos two soldiers Chike and Yemi flee their army base because they can no longer continue with the atrocities being committed by their platoon. They desert their base on foot and under the cover of darkness with no definite plans on where they're fleeing to. Along the way they pick up a bunch of characters all of whom are fleeing something in their lives. The group heads to Lagos in the hope that they can begin life afresh. Their first night in Lagos is spent in a hotel and then financial constraints force them to make a home under a busy Lagos bridge. The menial jobs they pick up help cover their expenses but the question of how long they can continue to live this way hangs over them. Their lives change forever when they come into contact with Chief Sandayo, the former Minister of Education, who's currently on the run.

Welcome to Lagos is the first novel to be released in 2017 out of the many highly anticipated books slated for release this year. There were a lot of times during my reading, especially in the beginning quarter, that I wanted to put this book down and move to another because I was bored by the storylines. By the time I was halfway done with it I knew it wasn't one that I'd recommend. Welcome to Lagos had its moments though. I was intrigued by some plot twists and I followed through to see where it was all headed but those moments don't make up for everything else. I do have to say that I was saddened by the novel's ending. I finished it and sat there in the kitchen thinking about it all. That ending was a product of all their choices especially those made by the group leader Chike. Welcome to Lagos is one of those novels you appreciate in the end.

The Spider King's Daughter by Chibundu Onuzo | Book Review

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January 07, 2017

Voice of America by E.C. Osondu | Book Review

Voice of America is a collection of eighteen short stories. It begins with Waiting and ends with the titular story, Voice of America. Some of the characters live in Nigeria and fantasize about the American life while swapping and parroting myths about Americans. Other times the characters are immigrants living in America and grappling with the realities of the American way of life. Of the eighteen short stories I only like seven - Waiting (I love, love, love this one. There's a reason it won the 2009 Caine Prize for African Writing), Bar Beach (love this), Our First American (love this one), Jimmy Carter's Eyes (I love this one a lot. It was a finalist for the 2007 Caine Prize for African Writing), A Letter from Home (love this), The Men They Married, and I Will Lend You My Wife. I had a mixed reaction to some of the remaining nine stories and disliked a couple of them.

Voice of America is E.C. Osondu's debut collection of short stories. It was published in 2010 and I've seen it referenced and recommended so many times over the last few years. Because it's so well regarded I expected to like it or at least a good chunk of it but things didn't turn out that way. I loved the first few stories but as I got further in my reading I encountered more and more stories I did not care for. Welcome to America was where my reading completely stalled for the first time. Every other entertainment choice in my house was more appealing than returning to that story but I finally got through it.

The first E.C. Osondu book I read was his second collection of short stories This House Is Not For Sale when it was published last year. I love that book a lot. Voice of America bears some similarities with This House Is Not For Sale except that the country of obsession by its characters is America instead of Britain. Voice of America is very enjoyable at the good points and E.C. Osondu's humor cracked me up just as it always does. I honestly would have liked to walk away loving the majority of stories in this highly regarded collection by Osondu. Honestly. If This House Is Not For Sale is an 8 out of 10 then Voice of America is a 5 out of 10.

This House Is Not For Sale by E.C. Osondu | Book Review

[Image via Amazon]