In March 2019, I finished Teju Cole’s Novel — Every Day is for the Thief.
I have resolved this year to intentionally add fiction to the kinds of book I read after learning that research shows fiction prompts one to be kinder, more curious, more creative and a better story teller.
Teju Cole’s is my second this year, after The Alchemist.
The novel, which is less of one but more of a memoir in a travelogue form, is about a young nameless Nigerian living abroad who comes for a visit. From the events narrated, the period of the visit is the last quarter of 2005.
In 27 short chapters, the author managed to capture the fascinating life of a Nigerian, well…a Lagosian, with its many dramas.
You will feel many emotions as a Nigerian reading this book.
You may feel sadness when you read of the Nigerian embassy paying lip service to fighting bribery when the only channel of reporting corruption is to the same official taking the bribe. Or even worse, when you read of the story of how a religious zealot made custodian of the National museum decided the arts and crafts were too paganistic to be cared for.
What about the nostalgia you will feel when you read a detailed description of the internet cafes of yesteryears.
Or the laugh-out-loud moments reading about the operations of danfos, molues and their conductors.
I mentally underlined many fine play on words like…
“Power comes back…and the fan resumes its spinning like a broken conversation continued in mid-sentence.”
Quick fact: The fraud, popularly known as “419” is named after the section of the Nigerian criminal code it contravenes.
New Word alerts: Scheherazades. Sere. Rivuket.
It is not from a few people I have heard many variations of this prayer for Nigeria on behalf of the people they love:
“…every good thing I wish for this country, I secretly wish on her behalf. Any prayer I have that the future be a good one, that the place keep from breaking, is for her sake.”
A fine work by a fine man!