Talking Location With author Leigh Russell – YORK
Five great books set in NIGERIA
25th August 2019
Nigeria is the latest country for us to visit in our ‘Great books set in…’ series. Five great books set in Nigeria.
Nigeria is an African country on the Gulf of Guinea, has many natural landmarks and wildlife reserves. Protected areas such as Cross River National Park and Yankari National Park have waterfalls, dense rainforest, savanna and rare primate habitats. One of the most recognisable sites is Zuma Rock, a 725m-tall monolith outside the capital of Abuja that’s pictured on the national currency.
“One problem with our youths, in Africa and Nigeria, particularly, is that the education they received conditioned them for a functional society, which is, most times, non-existent. The resultant effect is that they are functioning below their level of education.” Dr. Charles Apoki
Blessing (12) and her brother Ezekiel (14) find their comfortable lives in Lagos change immensely when their parents separate. They move to near Warri, their Mother’s village. This is the story of the small family adapting to a different way of life, rural life in exchange for the big city.
Told from the point of view of nine-year-old Benjamin, the youngest of four brothers, The Fishermen is the Cain and Abel-esque story of an unforgettable childhood in 1990s Nigeria. When their father has to travel to a distant city for work, the brothers take advantage of his extended absence to skip school and go fishing. At the forbidden nearby river they encounter a madman, who predicts that one of the brothers will kill another. What happens next is an almost mythic event whose impact – both tragic and redemptive – will transcend the lives and imaginations of both its characters and its readers. Chigozie Obioma emerges as one of the best new voices of modern African literature, echoing its older generation’s masterful storytelling with a contemporary fearlessness and purpose.
Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The limits of fifteen-year-old Kambili’s world are defined by the high walls of her family estate and the dictates of her fanatically religious father. Her life is regulated by schedules: prayer, sleep, study, prayer.
When Nigeria is shaken by a military coup, Kambili’s father, involved mysteriously in the political crisis, sends her to live with her aunt. In this house, noisy and full of laughter, she discovers life and love – and a terrible, bruising secret deep within her family.
This extraordinary debut novel from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author of ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’, is about the blurred lines between the old gods and the new, childhood and adulthood, love and hatred – the grey spaces in which truths are revealed and real life is lived.
The Famished Road by Ben Okri
The narrator, Azaro, is an abiku, a spirit child, who in the Yoruba tradition of Nigeria exists between life and death. He is born into a world of poverty, ignorance and injustice, but Azaro awakens with a smile on his face. Nearly called back to the land of the dead, he is resurrected. But in their efforts to save their child, Azaro’s loving parents are made destitute. The tension between the land of the living, with its violence and political struggles, and the temptations of the carefree kingdom of the spirits propels this latter-day Lazarus’s story. Despite belonging to a spirit world made of enchantment, where there is no suffering, Azaro chooses to stay in the land of the Living: to feel it, endure it, know it and love it. This is his story.
Mamo and LaMamo are twin brothers living in the small Nigerian village of Keti, where their domineering father controls their lives. With high hopes the twins attempt to flee from home, but only LaMamo escapes successfully and is able to live their dream of becoming a soldier who meets beautiful women. Mamo, the sickly, awkward twin, is doomed to remain in the village with his father. Gradually he comes out of his father’s shadow and gains local fame as a historian, and, using Plutarch’s Parallel Lives as his model, he embarks on the ambitious project of writing a “true” history of his people. But when the rains fail and famine rages, religious zealots incite the people to violence—and LaMamo returns to fight the enemy at home.
Tony for the TripFiction Team
Which titles would you add to the list? Remember to check out the TripFiction listings for more books set in Nigeria and around the world. Each will transport you to some excellent fiction, travelogues or memoirs. Or you may have your own favourites you would like to add. Please leave your thoughts in the Comments box below.
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