Americanah is a sprawling heart-wrenching love-story told across three countries: Nigeria, the United States of America and the United Kingdom. It’s intense yet warm, honest yet subtle, mixing a range of subjects from racism and hair to religion. The story is told through the lenses of Ifemelu and Obinze, two young high school sweethearts and wraps around their journey to self discovery as they mature to adulthood. Ifemelu is the central character, though not a very likable one and her story is told via flashbacks. Thus, the past is recounted, sandwiched between the present.
Originally published in 1972, and re-released in 2012 by Waveland Press, Alex la Guma’s In the Fog of the Season’s End centers on two precisely observed main characters, Beukes and Elias. It depicts the inhumane treatment of blacks during the pre-independence period of South Africa. La Guma is cautious, avoiding excess frivolous drama and yet passing across his message.
Ben Okri writes beautifully and in The Famished Road, the book that won the 1991 Booker Award, he produces yet another fabulous read. After I read the book, his first in the Famished Road trilogy, I kept on muttering to myself `Okri is good’ hours after I had put the book down.
Buchi Emechata tells an award winning story that centers around Ogbanje Ojebeta, a girl sold off by her very own blood into slavery to the house of Ma Palagada and husband.
The Strange Man (published in 1969 by Heinmann) is the story of Old Mensa, a much respected member of a village community in Ghana. It’s a powerful story told in a soft manner. A story that examines the ills in the society especially the religious hypocrisy that has slowly come to stay and is eating deep into the fabric of the community and nation at large.
Ginny as she is fondly called is married to a young curate called Arthur and has no child of her own. She believes her prayer has been answered when a baby girl in a Tesco bag is brought to her and she earnestly presses for adoption. The child is named Julia. Not long afterwards, a black woman, Catherine decides to put up her eighteen month old son for adoption and she chooses Ginny and Arthur. Ginny accepts, though warily and Chester, the black child finds a home in the personage.
Benjamin Kwakye’s award winning novel, The Clothes of Nakedness, is a gripping story told with utter liveliness and candour and which reveals how corruption could subtly eat deep into the fabrics of men and women alike. It shows the relationship between the rich and the poor in urban Ghana and how the position of the rich could easily influence the poor in taking decisions.