Book Review — Diaries of a Dead Man by Chuma Nwokolo

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This morning, I finished Chuma Nwokolo’s novel — Diaries of a Dead African. Chuma is a lawyer who lives in Jos.

The book is a fictional story about Meme Jumai and his two sons, Calama and Abel. Meme struggles and fails to respond to his pathetic financial conditions, Calama got into wealth via the notorious Advance Fee Fraud and succumbed to the fatal consequence of exerting revenge for an event which happened in his childhood, while Abel strives to makes something out of his directionless existence.

The novel is thus divided in three sections, with each character penning a dairy of events which occurred in a short time frame.

I must confess that the two sections of this book are two of the most humorous writings I have read in my adult life. In several instances, I guffawed so hard one would think I was crazy.

It was difficult to produce as many excerpts as is my custom because you need context to understand why the extracted parts were such strokes of genius. Still a few came through…

“I lay there on my bed assessing my last eleven inches of yam. If there’s one gift we didn’t discuss on the day God made me, it was the gift of fasting. The very thought of a full day without a meal gives me a headache.”

“Journeyman’s other children have been peddling the story that their father died of AIDS. What I want to know is: where did Journeyman get AIDS? Do people get AIDS from eating cassava peel? Nonsense and tenpence! People just try to win unnecessary sentiments for nothing’s sake. Posing with a big man’s disease, as if it’s hard to recognise the body of a person who died of hunger.”

“If you see a man who is angry all the time, check his pocket very well. If it’s not poverty, it’ his wife who has electric current in her tongue.”

The author’s humorous use of simile is superb.

“…my hunger was as wicked as a demon.”

“…my pots were as empty as the mind of a simpleton.”

“Ma Abel used to say that it was bad thinking that made my face squeeze up like an old man’s scrotum.”

If Chuma is reading this, you should look to correct the dates and their narrations. For instance, you narrated June 6, 2000 as a Sunday. I checked and it’s a Tuesday.

I recommend this novel highly.

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