‘I am everywhere, but stealthy like odorless air. I confound like the riddle of life and death. But, then again, like the riddle of silence, I am nowhere. And the story I venture to chronicle is rooted in this uncanny ability of mine to be (but not be) everywhere – a skill despised by many, especially the targets of my inquiry, but loved by those to whom I bring my tale. So who am I?’
The Sun by Night (published in 2006) begins like a riddle which seeks to unravel the secrets surrounding the death of an Accra prostitute. Right from the start, from the prologue, readers are presented with a tale and by the end of the novel, it is expected that the reader would have unraveled the mystery surrounding the whole tale. But what is this tale, the novel seeks to tell?
The story surrounds the arrest and trial of a rich man called Koo Manu who is both a wealthy businessman and a respected politician and is being tried for murdering a prostitute. Apart from this trial, the author does so well by building a political stratagem around the whole crime and story.
The novel is divided into three main books with a striking and engaging prologue and a gripping epilogue. I must confess here that I was locked up in a world of wonderland when I started Book One because of the author’s use of the second person narrative – ‘You’. There is mastery, well-paced and articulate use of the second person narrative in that it makes it difficult for the reader to pause while reading. Unlike most novels which extensively use either the first of the third person narrative, Kwakye’s style and approach to this narrative is uniquely innovative and refreshing.
Benjamin Kwakye does so well with his exploitation of very important themes which calls for immediate attention in a country still grappling with the heavy legacies of the colonial experience. Themes like societal conflicts, political shenanigans, spiritual and economic strains, sex and scandal are well exploited and calls for immediacy and redress.
I found the following passage very interesting, perhaps one of my favorite moments in the novel and this is very popular in a country gripped with political terror and fear and where the lives of inhabitants especially when the journalistic profession is threatened.
The knock came seconds later. I opened the door.
‘Na you dey write nasty stuff for your paper?’
I made no response.
‘Make you come plus us.’
‘Give me a second,’ I said, ‘I need to put some clothes on.’
This is one particular novel that will grip you to your seat as you may want to read at a sitting. It took me exactly two days in reading it and I must confess that I was impressed. It is a book that is ranked high on the list of my all time favorite novels. I call it a novel that is unputdownable and calls for rereading over and over again. Have you ever been told a riddle before? Have you ever solved a dazzling puzzle before? Well, go into this book with a mind of unraveling a tale that is so refreshing and well-told. You have to definitely try this one and you will never ever be disappointed. Highly, Highly, Highly, Highly, Highly Recommended!
Editor’s Note: The Sun by Night won the 2006 Commonwealth Writer’s prize for Best Book (Africa Region).