Book Review — Everything Good Will Come by Sefi Atta

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This evening, I finished Sefi Atta’s novel — Everything Good Will Come.

It’s a story about a young Nigerian girl (and her friend) growing up in Nigeria. The period of the writing spans between 1971 and 1995, when the military regime held sway.

Perhaps it was because it’s been a while I have picked up a fiction book, but it was difficult for me to get into this story. It took me almost a week to flip the first page. But then, I eased into the story, got sucked in and finished it in 4 days, this despite my heavy workload. I can only thank a friend for telling me it’s a good book else I would have abandoned it on the very first page.

Enitan, the narrator, took us on a journey from when she was 11 years old to when she was 35. Enitan, an only child in a middle-class but unhappy household, was delighted to meet a next neighbour friend whom her mother disapproves of. She eventually goes to boarding school, then off to England to study, and comes back to Nigeria. She works as a lawyer in her father’s law firm, but leaves the place after a disagreement. Dated an artist but breaks it off after he cheated. Eventually gets married and gives birth, in between this period, her father is imprisoned, and her mum dies.

The summary aboves does a disservice to the book, because of the impeccable descriptive ability of Sefi Atta. In the book, she would say the obvious yet leave you yearning for more.

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Look at this below,

“Sheri was a Moslem and she didn’t know much about Christianity, except that there was a book in the Bible and if you read it, you could go mad.” Hahaha

Anyone who grew up in South West Nigeria will reminisce about this.

Reading it, I would smile reading the illustrations she provided to certain situations, but I could not help feeling that I would be completely lost if I were not a Nigerian. Was she writing strictly to an African audience? Then I saw these lines,

“…to an African reader, these things could appear overexplained. Harmattan for instance. You already knew: a season, December–January, dust in the eyes, coughing, chilly mornings, by afternoon sweaty armpits. Whenever I read foreign books, they never explained the simplest things, like snow. How it crunched under your shoes, kissed your face both warm and cold. How you were driven to trample it, then loathed it after it became soiled. All these things! No one ever bothered to tell an African!”

I also feel the details in the book deserve more than a Novel. Could this have been written as an autobiography or a political treatise of the lives of middle-class Nigerians during the period of the military junta? I think so.

I think this especially because this book touches greatly on the plight and travails of the female gender in our society. The neglected wife for lack of male child. Solace of religion for an abandoned woman. Finding a husband. Rape. Domestic abuse. Miscarriage. Women political activism.

It’s an interesting and colorful book particularly for a Nigerian because Sefi Atta writes beautifully. I’m glad another of her book has been recommended.

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