After discussing the pros and cons of African Literature, I recently had the opportunity to read the book “Love is Power or Something Like That” by “A. Igoni Barrett,” a Nigerian author. In fact I just finished it today. This book is a collection of short stories that delve into the cracks and hidden secrets of the streets of modern Nigeria. So let me do a short book review of it.
From a young by posing as a woman online, to the state of corruption and thirst for power amongst policemen, a young woman suspected of sleeping with her employer yet still becoming his wife’s confidante, two women who never talked to each other though they were neighbors for many years become friends when they have no one else to turn to, and so much more, these nine stories are brought to you in a captivating yet simplistic manner.
Each is completely unique with its own character and style, yet all showed the shortcomings and failures of human life. What was different than what I expected was that there was no hero or villain as in most stories. The author, I assume intended to paint a picture of life as it is, without ruffles and fluff to make it more digestible to the reader.
The characters seemed to express through the pages, ‘this is me, with all my flaws and my good qualities take me or leave me.’ In the very essence of the word they are just people. I loved the description used by the author. He creates a glass window which you can look through to see the lives unfolding before you.
There are more pros than cons in this book but a few things I would personally prefer to have been different would be;
The use of Language. A lot of the characters talk in Nigerian slang which is a bit of a struggle to decipher. It may relate to the local people but for a wider, international audience it may have been more helpful if the author listed definitions of some words at the back or front of the book. It is possible to guess what the author meant when you see the foreign words and phrases from a contextual point of view though.
The lack of flow. I guess this would be a con to most books with short stories. Unlike a novel, the book doesn’t flow, and the stories are so diverse, that you can’t just mesh from one story to the next. This makes it easy to put the book down and forget about it for a period of time, after finishing one story, before moving on to the next. Maybe a suggestion for this would be to carry it everywhere with you, so that in between appointments or in traffic you can read a story. It can also be a pro as it means you don’t need that long to finish one of the stories, and it won’t leave you hanging as you go about your day. You are allowed to take your time with this one.
Those are the only two issues I have had with this book, but all in all it is definitely a good investment and worth the read. I would personally recommend it to anyone looking to dive into good African Literature.
Book Review: “So Long a Letter” by Mariama Ba