image Unrealistic Optimism in Hyginus Ekwuazi’s One Day I’ll Dare to Raise My Middle Finger at the Stork and the Reaper.

By Uchenna Ekweremadu 


  • Title: One Day I’ll Dare to Raise My Middle Finger at the Stork and the Reaper
  • Author: Hyginus Ekwuazi
  • Publisher: SEVHAGE Publishers
  • Number of pages: 98
  • Year of publication: 2015
  • Category: Poetry

This slim volume of thirty-three poems, which was longlisted for the Nigeria NLNG Prize for Literature in 2017, is bound thematically by the three-ply cord of death, gloom and positive self-deception. Peering through the anguished eyes of the persona in the poems, the reader finds a world smeared with melancholy. And since such reality can be daunting, a reasonable diversion is to set up an alternative reality, even one that is unrealistically optimistic. More…

image To a Life of Kisses and Quarrels

By Tolu Akinwole 


  • Title: Niyi Osundare: A Literary Biography
  • Author: Sule E Egya
  • Publisher: SEVHAGE Publishers
  • Number of pages: 334
  • Year of publication: 2017
  • Category: Biography

Some people’s lives compel biographies, and Niyi Osundare is one of them. Or how else does one describe a life that exemplifies the classic grass-to-grace tale? Niyi Osundare: A Literary Biography captures in rich detail the trials and triumphs of one of the greatest poets to have risen from Nigeria; it outlines in bold relief the tortuous road to greatness. Only a few writers other than Sule E Egya, a poet, critic, academic and Osundare enthusiast, are qualified to present the story as he does. More…

image Suspect Sojourns: Time as Culprit

By Tomiwa Ilori 


  • Title: The Time-Travels of the Man Who Sold Pickles and Sweets
  • Author: Khairy Shalaby
  • Translator: Michael Cooperson
  • Publisher: Hoopoe
  • Number of pages: 327
  • Year of publication: 2016
  • Category: Fiction

The Time-Travels of the Man Who Sold Pickles and Sweets is set across time. From ancient Egypt till the late 20th century, Egyptian history is served through the use of time travels, catapulting the reader to and from different points in time. Ibn Shalaby, the protagonist, is a time traveller who, with his quaint briefcase, sets out on invitations from past Caliphs and meets with icons of Egypt’s past at different points in his travels. More…

image How It Happened: A Review of The Book of Memory

By Kemi Falodun


  • Title: The Book of Memory
  • Author: Petina Gappah
  • Publisher: Cassava Republic Press
  • Number of pages: 311
  • Year of publication: 2016
  • Category: Fiction

‘Blessed are the forgetful, for they get the better even of their blunders’, wrote Friedrich Nietzsche. For some people, forgetting is a defense mechanism against unwanted memories, a way to avoid pain: the one they were subjected to, the one they caused others, or both. For others, being involved in different activities may suppress, or at least help them cope with those unwanted memories. But what recourse is there for one who is imprisoned and has nothing more than silence, time and memories? How does such a one run from their past? More…

image The Statecraft of Winning Elections in Africa

By Seye Bassir


  • Title: How to Win Elections in Africa
  • Author: Chude Jideonwo with Adebola Williams
  • Publisher: Kamsi Farafina
  • Number of pages: 280
  • Year of publication: 2017
  • Category: Politics

How does one win elections in Africa? A humorous answer to this question might be that you do not. Chude Jideonwo in his book, How to Win Elections in Africa, writes that the African continent is ‘mostly defined by dictatorship’, despite an ‘exceptionally high number of elections’ having held in recent years. A good extension of this point would be that several recent elections across Africa have been flawed or have been smokescreens to create false legitimacy for undemocratic governments. More…

image Dead on Arrival

By Tunji Olalere 


  • Title: Class, Ethnicity and Democracy in Nigeria: The Failure of the First Republic
  • Author: Larry Diamond
  • Publisher: Nigeria Next Quarter
  • Number of pages: 376
  • Year of publication: 2015
  • Category: Politics

‘If all moral and material advantages depend on those who hold power, there is no baseness that will not be resorted to in order to please them; just as there is no act of chicanery or violence that will not be resorted to in order to attain power’ – Gaetano Mosca, The Ruling Class.

The story of Nigeria is one of the great tragedies of the 20th century. Captured in verse, in plays and prose, polemics and paintings, it has intrigued generation after generation of thinkers and players how a geographically endowed country, with one of the richest deposits of natural and human resources, has stumbled from misfortune to disaster, from self-mutilation to near-annihilation, and continues to totter on, swaying from the intoxication of empty vainglory, on a path of under-achievement. More…

image The Primacy of Life: A Review of Ikeogu Oke’s The Heresiad

By Uchenna Ekweremadu


  • Title: The Heresiad 
  • Author: Ikeogu Oke
  • Publisher: Kraft Books Ltd
  • Number of pages: 105
  • Year of publication: 2017
  • Category: Poetry

‘I felt my standpoint shaken
In the universal crises.
But with one step backward taken
I saved myself from going’ – Robert Frost, ‘One Step Backward Taken’

The poet’s mind jumps about from the important to the trivial, from the savoury to the unsavoury, gathering ingredients, the type that T S Eliot refers to as ‘disparate experiences’. These ingredients, when collected proportionately and blended, result in honey. This analogy is reinforced in Ikeogu Oke’s The Heresiad where the discerning reader finds sufficient traces of the classics, history, religion and myth.

More…

image The Animist Swath

By Tade Ipadeola


  • Title: Animist Chants and Memorials 
  • Author: Harry Garuba
  • Publisher: Kraft Books Ltd
  • Number of pages: 79
  • Year of publication: 2018
  • Category: Poetry

‘Can we ever again shred the drapery of the word

and return to the fullness of the spell and the chant?’ – Harry Garuba, ‘In the House of the Tongue’

‘What heart is large enough to store a question so long

it troubles every answer that history trades and analysts provide’ – Harry Garuba, ‘Girl and the Dancing Hoop’

The poet Harry Garuba has now published two volumes of poetry 35 years apart. The first of the volumes came from a 24-year-old mind and the second a 59-year-old consciousness, if consciousness can be reckoned by the calendar. Again, installing an eskhatos of any sort to benchmark the poetic output of Harry Garuba may not be a terribly useful undertaking because, like Rilke, even when Harry Garuba is washing his hands, he cannot help being a poet. In the annals of African poetry, the two events matter all the same because they touch – tangentially at first and then emphatically, on a way of seeing, and a way of reckoning and rendering reality that is closer to the geologic than it is to the chronologic – on ‘modern’ temper. More…

image A Review of Abdilatif Abdalla: Poet in Politics

By Agatha Aduro


  • Title: Abdilatif Abdalla: Poet in Politics
  • Editors: Rose Marie Beck and Kai Kresse
  • Publisher: Mkuki na Nyota Publishers Ltd
  • Number of pages: 147
  • Year of publication: 2016
  • Category: Essays

Abdilatif Abdalla: Poet in Politics is a collection of essays in honour of the Kenyan poet. It is composed mainly of papers that were presented at a symposium in honour of Abdilatif Abdalla on the occasion of his retirement from the University of Leipzig at the end of a fifteen-year teaching stint. The book is divided into four sections preceded by a preface and the editors’ acknowledgment. The papers are authored by a wide range of contributors, from renowned authors Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o and Said Ahmed Khamis to Sheik Abdillahi Nassir, a noted Islamic scholar, translator and political activist who is also Abdalla’s elder brother. More…

image The Longing of the Dervish Served on a Platter of Love and Revenge

By Agatha Aduro


  • Title: The Longing of the Dervish
  • Author: Hammour Ziada
  • Translator: Jonathan Wright
  • Publisher: Hoopoe
  • Number of pages: 297
  • Year of publication: 2016
  • Category: Fiction

What happens when you put a freed slave with strong leanings towards Jihadism and an impressionable, young, Christian nun, filled with a zeal to convert ‘African barbarians’, together in the midst of a Sudan that is embroiled in politico-religious turbulence? The result is what forms the core of The Longing of the Dervish, a novel by Hammour Ziada that in its Arabic original won the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature in 2014. More…