image A Far Cry from Cairo

By Tade Ipadeola


  • Title: Otared
  • Author: Mohammad Rabie
  • Translator: Robin Moger
  • Publisher: Hoopoe
  • Number of pages: 341
  • Year of publication: 2016
  • Category: Fiction

The Ukrainian poet, Yuri Andrukhovych, once said that the formula for being human is memory plus hope. It is a neat formula and if he is correct, no novelist alive has subverted his vision as exhaustively as Mohammad Rabie. In a sprawling meditation on the phenomenon of Cairo, Egypt, the Arab Spring, colonialism and capitalism, Rabie presents his reader with a world utterly savage in the extreme. Otared is as far removed from the Cairo of Naguib Mahfouz as is imaginatively and stylistically possible. More…

image The Real-Life Sangoma and the Star Child

By Agbonmire Ifeh


  • Title: Nwelezelanga: The Star Child
  • Author: Unathi Magubeni
  • Publisher: BlackBird Books
  • Number of pages: 129
  • Year of publication: 2016
  • Category: Fiction

Nwelezelanga: The Star Child is the testament to a drastic career change. Information gleaned from the author’s biography reveals that the author left the corporate world to become a sangoma and trainee herbalist, and the book could be read as an explanation for his choice. It is also public relations for his new job. Written in the third person, the book is divided into three parts. Taken as a novel, it would comfortably fall into the genre of magical realism, but Nwelezelanga: The Star Child really is a mystical and philosophical book. The narrative is starkly framed in terms of darkness versus light. More…

image The Imaginativeness and Functionality of African Oral Literature

By Tọ́pẹ́ Salaudeen-Adégòkè


  • Title: Who Told the Most Incredible Story?
  • Author: Naana J E S Opoku-Agyemang
  • Publisher: Afram Publishers (Ghana) Limited
  • Number of pages: 619 (5 Vols: Vol 1, 113pp; Vol 2, 121pp; Vol 3, 128pp; Vol 4, 122pp; Vol 5, 135pp)
  • Year of publication: 2015
  • Category: Fiction

‘“Fantasy” is the natural bedrock of all African folktales. In other words, there is no African oral narrative, including folktales, both “fictional” and “non-fictional”, that is not couched in varying degrees of fantasy’, writes Ademola Dasylva in his monograph, Classificatory Paradigms in African Oral Narrative (p 14). It is often said that childlike truths are best expressed in a childlike manner, and fantasy is a sure means of perpetuating childlike truths. Fantasy allows free range for the imagination of oral artists and their listeners. More…

image And after Many Reviews

By Dami Ajayi


  • Title: And after Many Days
  • Author: Jowhor Ile
  • Publisher: Kachifo Limited
  • Number of pages: 287
  • Year of publication: 2016
  • Category: Fiction

Jowhor Ile’s debut novel, And after Many Days, has been panned by some readers and critics. More…

image A Paradigm of Familial Love and Loss

By Tọ́pẹ́ Salaudeen-Adégòkè


  • Title: And after Many Days
  • Author: Jowhor Ile
  • Publisher: Kachifo Limited
  • Number of pages: 287
  • Year of publication: 2016
  • Category: Fiction

Family is beautiful, an institution of love that binds more than mere friendship when genuine love is present. Family is not just a group of individuals who live together – the fraternal love and amity between siblings is wonderful when it is present. And, to be fortunate enough to have people who can be regarded as relatives is to be blessed immensely. More…

image Give the Jew a Muslim Burial

By Tolu Akinwole


  • Title: Menorahs and Minarets
  • Author: Kamal Ruhayyim
  • Translator: Sarah Enany
  • Publisher: Hoopoe
  • Number of pages: 256
  • Year of publication: 2017
  • Category: Fiction

‘They could hardly believe what they were seeing: a dead Jew, and a Muslim funeral’ (p 249).

These are good times for readers; novelists are boldly taking on issues of immense socio-political significance, and novels are igniting lively debates. Kamal Ruhayyim is one such novelist; Menorahs and Minarets is one such novel. Days in the Diaspora (2012) and Diary of a Jewish Muslim (2014) heralded Menorahs and Minarets, which concludes a compelling trilogy. Menorahs and Minarets does not merely paint ‘an uncompromising portrait of an older generation dictating how their children live and love’ as the blurb proclaims, it is an insightful x-ray of the socially significant effects of the clash of menorahs and minarets on the private life of a man caught in that conflict. More…

image A Vigorous Nod to Existence

By Adaudo Anyiam-Osigwe


  • Title: Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun
  • Author: Sarah Ladipo Manyika
  • Publisher: Cassava Republic Press
  • Number of pages: 118
  • Year of publication: 2016
  • Category: Fiction

Sarah Ladipo Manyika’s short novel, Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun, centres on the elderly Dr Morayo Da Silva, and is a considerate meditation on life’s daily triumphs and setbacks. Our moments and actions accumulate into years and stories that are embodied in a lifetime. As a former English professor, Morayo is deeply attached to books. However, as one discovers more about Morayo’s life, there is a realisation that this deep attachment is a form of solace, and not just solace but also a way to seek control over the meaning of death and betrayal. More…

image Resolve and Dissolution

By Tade Ipadeola


  • Title: Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun
  • Author: Sarah Ladipo Manyika
  • Publisher: Cassava Republic Press
  • Number of pages: 118
  • Year of publication: 2016
  • Category: Fiction

The newest novel by Sarah Ladipo Manyika tackles the human phenomenon of ageing and loss. It begins in an old house far away in San Francisco. It is a house that has survived significant stretches of time and even earthquakes. The novel ends in the same city, in a fast, low car fondly named Buttercup by its owner, the heroine of the tale. In between the opening movements of the novel and the denouement, the reader is taken on a wide-ranging journey through literal time zones and through varying geographies. The tale touches India and Nigeria, it touches French and Yorùbá, it slaloms through passages of love and perfumed mists rising from the wake of obdurate passion, it pants as a determined, quixotic, mule dripping with voluptuous confectionery meant for a sizzling, enigmatic sun. More…

image A Review of Glowfly Dance

By Agatha Aduro


  • Title: Glowfly Dance
  • Author: Jade Gibson
  • Publisher: Umuzi
  • Number of pages: 438
  • Year of publication: 2015
  • Category: Fiction

People think that when you are fourteen you know nothing, but I have seen so much, I have a thousand stories, burning and shining and rising within me, and all I can do is try to catch them, one by one, because I only have the moments, fading in and out, when everything else is gone (p 7).

This is how Jade Gibson introduces us to Mai, the major protagonist of Glowfly Dance. The entire first chapter is an innocuous, nearly idyllic introduction to the book, and it speaks of glowflies, the smell of blood oranges and of dancing and cherry blossoms. The reader is completely in the dark regarding the horrors that are lurking in the subsequent chapters. More…

image Repetitions in a Gory History

By Adebiyi Olusolape


  • Title: After They Left
  • Author: Edify Yakusak
  • Publisher: Kurdan Publishing
  • Number of pages: 244
  • Year of publication: 2016
  • Category: Fiction

Damaging and deeply painful, the history and contemporary reality of communal violence in Nigeria has generated not only loss and then more loss but also discussions, critical debate over terms like ‘settlers’ and ‘indigenes’, over ‘animist’, ‘atheist’, ‘christian’ as well as ‘muslim’. Every bout of violence warrants an historical excursion to the last time there was a ‘crisis’, a ‘riot’, a ‘clash’ as well as the crisis/ riot/ clash before that last clash/ riot/ crisis. More…