The year of fiction. The year of West African literature. The year of tears shed. I am back with my 2017 wrap up (albeit in June). If you haven’t read my (Lit)erature 2016 already, you probably should. Once again, in no particular order – because making me choose would just be cruel – here are my top 3 reads.
Let me start this off by saying I cried. I read this book mainly because I was curious to see how someone who knew they would die would write such a memoir. I don’t even know how to describe this book. A man’s death sentence led him to explore the meaning of life and everything in it. This book was rushed, he was trying to write this while racing against the clock – and it reads that way. I felt anxious, and tried to read faster, as if I was in a rush too, to learn as much from this man as possible before it was over. His wife deserves a prize for the Epilogue. If you end up reading the book, please do not skip it.
What happened to Paul was tragic, but he was not a tragedy.
I don’t know why it took me so long to read this book. I have no excuses to give, only that I am a fool. Simply put, this book is amazing. It explores everything from traditionalism, to religion, to colonialism. Not only did he portray pre-colonial Igboland brilliantly, but he’s also a master writer. His prose is poignant. It hits hard, and leaves you reeling. The fact that it was Achebe’s first novel blows my fucking mind. I appreciated that this book was stubbornly complex and nuanced. This book is timeless and a must read.
The white man is very clever. He came quietly and peaceably with his religion. We were amused at his foolishness and allowed him to stay. Now he has won our brothers, and our clan can no longer act like one. He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart.
I don’t know what I expected when I picked this up, but I can tell you it was incredible. This book made me cry several times. Not only was it tragic, but the writing blew me away. If you know me and my reading preferences, you’ll know that I stan a multi-generational family tale – but this book puts all the others to shame. This book spans from pre-colonial to modern day Ghana. It spans from the trans-atlantic slave trade to modern day USA. I love that it contains so many characters, that it managed to fit in so many different lives at different points in time. It encompasses so much history and personifies it – it’s magical.
“Split the Castle open,
find me, find you.
We, two, felt sand,
One felt whip. Whipped,
We, two, black.
One grew from
cocoa’s soil, birthed from nut,
skin uncut, still bleeding.
We two, wade.
The waters seem different
but are same.
Our same. Sister skin.
Who knew? Not me. Not you.”
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