Fiction

image A Review of Across the Gulf by Dul Johnson

By Omotola Otubela 


  • Title: Across the Gulf 
  • Author: Dul Johnson
  • Publisher: SEVHAGE Publishers
  • Number of pages: 240
  • Year of publication: 2017
  • Category: Fiction

Regardless of the world-acclaimed recognition African novels have received over the years, their aesthetic and artistic worth is still subject to debate. This is because in depicting the African experience of slavery, war and colonialism, it is difficult to avoid clichés. However, a number of contemporary writers such as Dul Johnson have made conscious efforts to incorporate these issues in their works in such a way that they not only reflect the African past but serve as an eye-opener to the strangulating effect of these tragic historical incidents, in the process helping to prevent them from reoccurring. Across the Gulf is one such effort. It follows other works by the same author, including Shadows and Ashes, Why Women Won’t Make It to Heaven, Melancholia and Deeper into the Night. More…

image Withering like a Raisin in the Sun

By Ekemini Pius 


  • Title: African Son
  • Author: Wambalye Weikama
  • Publisher: KHAMEL Publishing
  • Number of pages: 193
  • Year of publication: 2015
  • Category: Fiction

Wambalye Weikama’s African Son is a heart-rending story about Simon and his twin, Anna, who grow up in Uganda. Simon dreams of studying business at the University of Washington, USA. His dream comes true and he is offered admission. When he arrives in America, the first thing he notices is the racial discrimination. His white classmates see him as underprivileged, the poor African who ‘had to work to make ends meet and was in this school by way of philanthropy’. Most of his classmates think he needs to feel accepted, so they flatter him with charitable comments about his accent and their love for Africa. Weikama uses these scenes to delicately reveal the repressive racial conditions Africans have to deal with while studying abroad, and how the portrayal of America as a flawless paradise by Africans who have never been there is untrue. More…

image Vacuum and Spaces: Falling into Space in Pever X’s Cat Eyes

By Victor Udochi Iwueze-Elias 


  • Title: Cat Eyes 
  • Author: Pever X
  • Publisher: NWS Publishers
  • Number of pages: 263
  • Year of publication: 2014
  • Category: Fiction

‘In a full heart, there is room for everything, and in an empty heart there is room for nothing’. – Antonio Porchia

Pever X’s first novel, Cat Eyes, is one of the flagship novels of the Nigerian Writers’ Series (NWS) – a reenactment of the defunct African Writers’ Series by Heinemann – by the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), and first runner-up for the 2013 ANA Prize for Prose Fiction. It chronicles the psychological journey of Pededoo Boor Jnr, who struggles with a cocktail of emotions when his father returns home from a protracted stay in America. His father is accompanied by Adelaide and Melissa-Jane Sanders, whose presence and feline-coloured eyes fuel the flames of indignation roiling within him. More…

image Ẹkúndayọ̀: From Sorrow to Joy

By Munah Nicola Tarpeh


  • Title: Thorns in My Boots 
  • Author: Awoleye Ayokunle Dominic
  • Publisher: Parrésia Publishers Ltd
  • Number of pages: 153
  • Year of publication: 2017
  • Category: Fiction

They say the rose flower also has thorns, but my life was just merely thorns, all the flowers were withered. They say it is he that wears the shoe that knows where it pinches; I decided not to wear just a shoe but boots. But my boots were full of thorns and it pinched me all over.

Thorns in My Boots is the short, gripping tale of a young man, Ojo, and his struggle for identity as he wrestles to restore his family’s dignity. The death of his father, a palmwine tapper and dipsomaniac, when he was only two years old leaves only him and his mother, a petty trader. He grows up with a strong sense of determination to complete anything he sets his mind to, hence his childhood moniker, ‘wa pa mi l’oni’, meaning you will have to kill me to stop me. More…

image Of Juju Powder and Jollof Rice: Unconventional Afrocentrism in Nnedi Okorafor’s Sunny and the Mysteries of Osisi

By Timi Odueso


  • Title: Sunny and the Mysteries of Osisi
  • Author: Nnedi Okorafor
  • Publisher: Cassava Republic Press
  • Number of pages: 329
  • Year of publication: 2018
  • Category: Young Adult

Unlike its prequel, What Sunny Saw in the Flames, with its heretical use of language, idiosyncratic description of African mythology and blinding characterisation, Nnedi Okorafor’s Sunny and the Mysteries of Osisi with every page excited and intrigued this reader. Set in contemporary Africa, the new book continues the story of the Leopard Folk – people with surreal abilities – through the hazel eyes of the heroine, Sunny. While the author employs a third-person point of view in presenting the heroine, the other characters are only seen through Sunny’s eyes. In more ways than one, this can be viewed as an allusion to the relationship between her albinism and the meaning of her spirit name, Anyanwu, eye of the sun. More…

image Prime Suspect: Guilty or Not Guilty?

By Tọ́pẹ́ Salaudeen-Adégòkè


  • Title: The Final Bet
  • Author: Abdelilah Hamdouchi
  • Translator: Jonathan Smolin 
  • Publisher: Hoopoe
  • Number of pages: 138
  • Year of publication: 2016
  • Category: Fiction

‘The true test of democracy is in the police stations and not in the dome of parliaments’. – Abdelilah Hamdouchi

When only the circumstantial facts and evidence of a case point to a person as guilty in a repressive police state, where the police are reckless, hostile, shoddy and can coerce a false confession out of anyone, then one has already lost the trial before it begins, that is if there will be any trial at all. One will easily be convicted for a murder especially when there is an ostensible motive. More…

image Identity and Language in When We Speak of Nothing

By Adaudo Anyiam-Osigwe


  • Title: When We Speak of Nothing
  • Author: Olumide Popoola
  • Publisher: Cassava Republic Press
  • Number of pages: 256
  • Year of publication: 2017
  • Category: Fiction

The one word which comes to mind on reading Olumide Popoola’s When We Speak of Nothing is daring. It is a daring novel, without inhibitions in terms of language and its portrayal of identity. The novel – set in London, United Kingdom, and Port Harcourt, Nigeria – is a bildungsroman of the two teenage protagonists, Abu and Karl, on the verge of eighteen, questioning and seeking out wholeness and authenticity in life and, just as important, a place in the world where they can live out this authenticity. Karl lays this bare in an honest conversation with his mother when he says, ‘There is no wholeness. Nowhere I really am…I was not here. I didn’t exist’. 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 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…