The African Piper of Harlem

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Every citizen in this district is filled with hope. (…) New immigrants have seen the realization of that hope for the African-American icons. And they are here to participate in that dream, including the fictional characters discussed in the following chapters. The family comes from Nigeria- the most populous country in Africa, containing at least 300 ethnolinguistic groups (…) Perhaps this family may have had ancestors who were middle-men in facilitating the trans-Atlantic slave trade. But that, and skin pigmentation are the only physical similarities they conceivably share with the American descendants of slaves. Thus, begins the age-old dance of assimilation, exchanging old stories and acquiring new ones. In a bygone era, connections formed in ethnic enclaves over time, perhaps a generation or more, would have eased these transitions in a welcoming and appropriate manner. ”

When Ola, a Nigerian sixteen-year old girl who just moved to Harlem, finds out that she is pregnant with twins, she knows that she is at a crossroads and that she will have to make it on her own for her family. What she doesn’t know is that she is not as alone as she thinks and that the events in her life will sometimes be the fruit of fate and magic.

The story of Ola’s family is also the story of her coming of age, from a sixteen-year old young girl who wakes up into a tough, unknown world to the mother who, despite her stubbornness and her desire to control everything, discovers that not everything is controllable and that magic is as much a part of life as everyday reality. Above all, she will learn that, to quote one of the chapter titles, “life is a team sport”.

In this novella, Zeena Nackerdien explores the rich cultural identity of the mythical district of Harlem starting with a sensible and beautifully written introductory chapter called “Hope” in which we discover the roots of the multi-ethnic community living there. This district, which is a micro-universe in itself and home to a remarcable diversity of cultures and individual (hi)stories, is the setting of the story of Ola’s family that witnesses how magic can intrude unsurprisingly in daily life.

This “tale of bullies and deception” combines fantasy elements with Yoruba traditions and realistic descriptions in modern-day Harlem to show an extraordinarily diverse yet tough world, in which fantastic fairies sing their pipes to clear the world from bullies, and bring love back to life.

The African Piper of Harlem by Zeena Nackerdien

9-781725911109 / Createspace Independent Publishing Platform (to be published on September 15, 2018)

Review by Ioana Danaila

Ioana Danaila was born in Romania. She graduated from University Lyon 2 Lumière with a Masters in African Postcolonial Literature and a First degree in French for Non-Francophone people. She published a collection of short stories and translated books from French to Romanian. She speaks Romanian, French, English, and Spanish, and teaches English language and literature to highschool students in France.

The Promise That We Made

40771567You and I are from different worlds, Patrick Keen. You call It giving up. I think I’ve had enough. You have no idea what I’ve had to do to survive; the terrible life I’ve had to live. I’ve had to go forty-eight hours without food because I couldn’t afford it. I know poverty and poverty knows me. We breathe the same air. So, don’t sit here and blame me if I decide to leave all that behind and go back to a life I am certain is better.”

A straight-forward, determined girl from a poor village. A rich handsome man, coming from no where.

So begins a story between two people who live in two different worlds and who only cross each other’s path by accident. Omotara struggles against a life of poverty in her beloved village which now represents a serious menace for her. Patrick struggles to hold back the layers of his own identity, and also to win Omotara’s heart. When they come across each other several times, Omotara understands that she is at a crossoards in her life and that radical decisions await her.

In a world where nothing is what it looks like, where no place is truly safe, however familiar it looks, Omotara goes from Lagos back to her village where her people struggle to resist starvation under a newly-instaured dictatorial regime. Her determination to free her village from corruption and terror is also a way for fight her own destiny and to take back her own chance to become a doctor.

Aderonke Moyinlorun’s book is a pleasant reading that takes you across several places and genres almost at the same time, from the classical first encounter of a romance to an espionage novel. The alert style, both inward-oriented and accurate about the outside world, is doubled by a dynamic plot. The result is an interesting book with strong characters, an insightful first person narrative voice, and an unexpected mix of romance, thriller and political fable.

The Promise That We Made by Aderonke Moyinlorun

978-1722191658 / CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (July 14, 2018)

Review by Ioana Danaila

Ioana Danaila was born in Romania. She graduated from University Lyon 2 Lumière with a Masters in African Postcolonial Literature and a First degree in French for Non-Francophone people. She published a collection of short stories and translated books from French to Romanian. She speaks Romanian, French, English, and Spanish, and teaches English language and literature to highschool students in France.

Nigeria: A Failed State? (UPCOMING RELEASE IN SEPTEMBER 2018)

nigeria-afailedstate_amazon

« Scapegoating has not helped any nation to evolve ; Nigeria won’t be the exception. The best approach is to search for the cause of the failures and confront it. A country where politics is the chief means of livelihood is sitting on a time bomb. This perception brings about « national cake syndrome » ; national cake brings equity in public office ; equity in public office reinforces rotational presidency ; and rotational presidency, in turn, nurtures the agitation for national conference. »

Robert Nwadiaru introduces us to the present-day Nigeria, the African Giant, a country with infinite riches, both natural and human, yet which still struggles after more than half a century after the independence.

The book that critics have compared to Chinua Achebe’s The Trouble with Nigeria from 1983 transports its reader to Nigeria and  makes him feel like he knows it intimately ; the fine geographical details, as well as the constant references to the political, historical, and economical context in the past 50 years, offer a large view of what Nigeria is and, more, of what it could be. Understanding Nigeria’s present is a way to understand Africa’s development in the larger context of the contemporary world.

If the book analyses closely the reasons of the country’s failure, the blame is put on the political caste: corruption, poverty, poor infrastructure are all consequences of the bad political organization of Nigeria. However, far from being merely pessimistic, the book also analyses possible solutions, therefore making the politicians even more reponsible for the direction in which the country evolves.

Acclaimed by Kirkus Rieviews in 2015 for its first edition and released again in September 2018 by Mascot Books, Robert Nwadiaru’s book is sharp, critical and realistic. It is the lucid account of an author and citizen who knows the true potential of his country.

Is Nigeria a failed state? The question is open to discussion making the book a necessary reading in the contemporary world. We are therefore invited to meditate on the burning issues it raises.

You can read more on Robert Nwadiaru’s book and order your copy here:

https://mascotbooks.com/mascot-marketplace/buy-books/nonfiction/business-and-political/nigeria-a-failed-state-treatise-on-a-crippled-giant/

https://www.amazon.com/Nigeria-Failed-Profound-Treatise-Crippled/dp/1684015766/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1531841010&sr=8-1&keywords=Nigeria%3A+a+failed+state 

Review by Ioana Danaila

Ioana Danaila was born in Romania. She graduated from University Lyon 2 Lumière with a Masters in African Postcolonial Literature and a First degree in French for Non-Francophone people. She published a collection of short stories and translated books from French to Romanian. She speaks Romanian, French, English, and Spanish, and teaches English language and literature to highschool students in France.

Acacia Road

“Memoacacia-road-cover-art_origry Palace”

In my father’s house there are rooms, where I might wander,

Finding in each the rubble of childhood- a reading chair,

maroon rug, cluttered toys-

things on which I could place a memory, if only I could return-

(…) I articulate all memories into one: a toy gun, unstrung bow,

desk with owl feathers, cabinet spilling blood, the spines of books

I never had the time to read. If I lose the way back to this place,

lose it at a wrong turn and into a wrong room, it will never be for the lack

of things to stand in place of other things, but for the will to look.”

In this poetry book full of images and memories willing to bring back the time, the poet tries to capture the most powerful moments of sharing, love, friendship and tolerance: family, friends, loved ones, anonymous people, all are immortalized in the poet’s personal geography.

From the raw violence on the military fronts during the civil war to the quiet of a friend’s house, Aaron Brown takes the reader on a journey into a space and time that belong to a longed-for past: the Chad of his childhood, Ati the town of his growing-up years, almost a lost Paradise -even if this Paradise is also violent, tough and unforgiving.

Encapsulating space and time within words, Aaron Brown’s poetry rushes across a land of vivid colours and people. It also depicts a world belonging to another time and place, to another age, to another person; in this poliphonic poetry where French, Arabic and English sometimes mingle and almost echo each other, the poet creates the “memory palace” of his adult life.

Aaron Brown’s poetry is beautifully written and has a strong sense of description, thus transforming the ordinary into exquisite, blissful bits of writing. From the precious time spent with friends come these poems in which not a particular geographic region, but the land of youth, generosity and love is the true mother country so longed for.

Acacia Road by Aaron Brown

978-1878851697 / Silverfish Review Press (May 15, 2018)

Review by Ioana Danaila

Ioana Danaila was born in Romania. She graduated from University Lyon 2 Lumière with a Masters in African Postcolonial Literature and a First degree in French for Non-Francophone people. She published a collection of short stories and translated books from French to Romanian. She speaks Romanian, French, English, and Spanish, and teaches English language and literature to highschool students in France.

Trazer: Kids of Stolen Tomorrow

39725298The time is 1215 hours, Central Union Base Time. Updating progress on Program Irunmole: attempt to synthesize igioyin cure from antibodies of individuals possessing extranormal ability. There’s been a setback. Extranormals’ perceived immunity to igioyin appears to be limited by a range of variables; most notably, use of their abilities. Usage results in a rapid acceleration of the virus’ maturity. Resultant mortality rate is far greater than baseline for highly vulnerable Normals. We believe the selection of antibodies from higher usage Extranormals may be the root cause for the failure of the current iteration of the formula S1-91-978. After the initial success of trials with patient set 11.1 without the adverse effects seen in prior Normal groups, it appeared we had a viable treatment for the igioyin virus. ”

What would happen if the world was no longer the place you thought it was?

How would one encounter change your life and reveal a destiny larger than your own life?

In the year 93.O.O, Dara Adeleye is a gifted ambitious artist whose goal is to overcome her modest origin by being the best in class. Her life is focused on succeeding at school to provide a better life for her family. Yet when she meets Kris Arvelo, a trazer or a graffiti writer, her life will change forever as she understands that her mission may be much larger than she had initially envisaged. On the brink of extinction, the world as Dara used to know it is now in danger- and she might be just the person to help save it.

Situated in a world where technology and mythology meet, Joseph Adegboyega-Edun’s first book of the Trazer series is boldly written in a language scattered with words and images from the Yoruba mythology to show how harmoniously spirituality and technology can coexist; as the author himself states it, “Yoruba religion has a lot of lore related to travel in between worlds and traveling great distances instantly through secret portals.

Acclaimed by critics, Trazer: Kids of Stolen Tomorrow is one of the important works of contemporary Sci-Fi literature that both cherish their African traditional heritage, and look ahead for new forms and modes of representing our over-technologized world. Inspired by authors like Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Joseph Adegboyega-Edun’s novel is a powerful read in which Yoruba language, US slang and scientifc utopia weave the literary image of our globalized world.

Trazer: Kids of Stolen Tomorrow by Joseph Olumide Adegboyega-Edun

978-0692995037 / YorubaBoy Books; 1st edition (October 19, 2017)

Review by Ioana Danaila

Ioana Danaila was born in Romania. She graduated from University Lyon 2 Lumière with a Masters in African Postcolonial Literature and a First degree in French for Non-Francophone people. She published a collection of short stories and translated books from French to Romanian. She speaks Romanian, French, English, and Spanish, and teaches English language and literature to highschool students in France.

Nocturnal Notes

41fti5ijppl-_sx258_bo1204203200_Today, thoughts of you

came rushing like a danfo driver

I must have been in

a hurry for something –

it turned out to be you.

on impulse, I reach for your photo. (…)

at first, I laughed, then I smiled

soon my heart lost its rhythm

my eyes their pride

and my tears washed down your face”

(“Empty Room”)

Love, pain, friendship, political rebellion, homage to the elders and hope for the future are all encompassed in this collection of poems which is like a map of the poet’s interior landscapes painted with his own vision of life.

If the coming-of-age literature is almost exclusively in prose, here is an example of poetry that can draw the road from childhood and youth to maturity and knowledge. It’s also a road that involves the past and the future, the family, episodic encounters, revelations- all this creates the ever-changing identity of the poet.

Bolajoko Olusanya’s poems are lyrical and visual, sensible and sharp, and give the reader the sense of the universality of experience: even if the events illustrated by drawings are rooted in Nigeria, the experience they describe speaks to any reader regardless of his natvie culture. It is here the sign of important writing- that it spreads beyond its language and voice and speaks in the name of a generation anchored not in one country, but in all the world.

Nocturnal Notes by Bolajoko Olusanya

978-1975849184 / CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (November 16, 2017)

Review by Ioana Danaila

Ioana Danaila was born in Romania. She graduated from University Lyon 2 Lumière with a Masters in African Postcolonial Literature and a First degree in French for Non-Francophone people. She published a collection of short stories and translated books from French to Romanian. She speaks Romanian, French, English, and Spanish, and teaches English language and literature to highschool students in France.

My Mind Is No Longer Here

51yakqehhul-_sr6002c315_piwhitestrip2cbottomleft2c02c35_pistarratingfive2cbottomleft2c3602c-6_sr6002c315_sclzzzzzzz_1«  Each time he tried, he fell asleep after a few pages. He stared at it nowand what he saw was the small bookshelf in his childhood home in Enugu whichoverflowed with his father’s books. (…) Filled with this sudden flash of nostalgia, Donatus stretched his arm out and grabbed the book. In his younger years, he would have holed himself up in his room, missing meals and his favourite shows on television until he was done reading it. Tonight, he just wanted something to fill up the time until it was morning. »

In today’s Lagos, four characters are ready to take off to a better place. Donatus, Osahom, Haruna and Chidi prepare to embark for Europe where they will lead the life they daydream about, the life that the rich and influential Yinka promised and arranged for them.

In this four-voiced novel in which the same moment is repeated and recreated through each character’s own experience, we discover the dreams, hopes and pains of young ambitious people who think the world is too small for them. Sylva Nze Ifedigbo‘s beautifully written novel gives us an idea of how much we are capable of leaving behind for a dream and how wrong we can sometimes be. The question then is: is the dream worth it ?

As the four characters get closer to the departure day, time expands more and more to encompass all their hopes, missed opportunities to make up with their loved ones, and burning desire to escape, even if the promise of a better life is shadowed by obscure intentions.

With its clear introspection and its flowing language, My Mind Is No Longer Here is a great work of literature in the line of Chris Abani’s GraceLand in which the Promised Land that lies at the horizon is almost nothing like reality. It is in the narrow space between the decision to leave and departure that the narrative takes place- an in-betweenness that pushes people to make radical decisions and sometimes radical mistakes; a time where the future life and the ghosts of the past mingle.

Last but not least, Ifedigbo‘s novel is not only about Nigeria, but more about a global generation of people who boldly want to built their own destiny and make enormous sacrifices, yet who remain naive before the true nature of things and people.

My Mind Is No Longer Here by Slva Nze Ifedigbo

B06XGYJ562 (Kindle format) / Bahati Books (March 29th 2017)

Review by Ioana Danaila

Ioana Danaila was born in Romania. She graduated from University Lyon 2 Lumière with a Masters in African Postcolonial Literature and a First degree in French for Non-Francophone people. She published a collection of short stories and translated books from French to Romanian. She speaks Romanian, French, English, and Spanish, and teaches English language and literature to highschool students in France.

Descent into Night

51cis4u4i6l-_sx327_bo1204203200_ Beno and Wali were in the faculty of arts and Sika was studying law. We would spend entire afternoons at Beno’s place remaking the world. A broken world, in fragments scattered on the little low table around which we sat talking, trying to glue together the pieces, the shards of shattered lives and dreams. That was before the riots and the crises that came one after the other, the crises and the outbursts of violence that had begun to reinvent death with a hole in the chest. ”

Only memories are left: violence and broken dreams, crisis and solitude, failed relations and lost friends. This is what the protagonist Ito Baraka keeps bringing up in this long nocturnal meditation on his fight for freedom while distributing fliers during a student manifestation on the university campus. He will be imprisoned, lose some of his friends and forced to name names.

To Ito Baraka, suicide seems the only escape.

Inspired by the tensions between students and the government in the 1990s in the Togolese capital Lomé, between nightmare and musing, madness and serenity, love and fighting, the story of Ito Baraka takes the reader on a journey into the darkest places of the human mind; the voices mingle into a maze of traumatic visions of lost love, a failed writer’s career and appalling solitude, from Togo to Canada.

In this dark universe, in which there is no escape, the references to famous authors such as Beckett, Bohumil Hrabal or Camus are abundant and create a second skin for this tough and sharp novel. It is the author’s way to show us how powerful language is and creativity faced with death, violence and degradation. When despair is inevitable, only poetry and art can save a lost soul.

Ito Baraka’s nocturnal journey into his hellish past is not only hauntingly violent, but also beautifully pictured. Here is a novel from a fine craftsman of language who pays an homage not only to literature and writing, but also to fighting for freedom and humanity.

Descent into Night by Edem Awumey

978-1988449166 / Mawenzi House Publishers (November, 2017)

Review by Ioana Danaila

Ioana Danaila was born in Romania. She graduated from University Lyon 2 Lumière with a Masters in African Postcolonial Literature and a First degree in French for Non-Francophone people. She published a collection of short stories and translated books from French to Romanian. She speaks Romanian, French, English, and Spanish, and teaches English language and literature to highschool students in France.

Nigeria : A Failed State ?

51mvwoqazcl-_sx329_bo1204203200_« Scapegoating has not helped any nation to evolve ; Nigeria won’t be the exception. The best approach is to search for the cause of the failures and confront it. A country where politics is the chief means of livelihood is sitting on a time bomb. This perception brings about « national cake syndrome »; national cake brings equity in public office; equity in public office reinforces rotational presidency; and rotational presidency, in turn, nurtures the agitation for national conference. »

Robert Nwadiaru introduces us to the present-day Nigeria, the African Giant, a country with infinite riches, both natural and human, yet which still struggles after more than half a century after the independence.

The book that critics have compared to Chinua Achebe’s The Trouble with Nigeria from 1983 transports its reader to Nigeria and  makes him feel like he knows it intimately ; the fine geographical details, as well as the constant references to the political, historical, and economical context in the past 50 years, offer a large view of what Nigeria is and, more, of what it could be. Understanding Nigeria’s present is a way to understand Africa’s development in the larger context of the contemporary world.

If the book analyses closely the reasons of the country’s failure, the blame is put on the political caste: corruption, poverty, poor infrastructure are all consequences of the bad political organization of Nigeria. However, far from being merely pessimistic, the book also analyses possible solutions, therefore making the politicians even more reponsible for the direction in which the country evolves.

Acclaimed by Kirkus Rieviews in 2015 for its first edition, Robert Nwadiaru’s book is sharp, critical and realistic. It is the lucid account of an author and citizen who knows the true potential of his country.

Is Nigeria a failed state? The question is open to discussion making the book a necessary reading in the contemporary world. We are therefore invited to meditate on the burning issues it raises.

Nigeria: A Failed State? by Robert Nwadiaru

978-1632689276 / Tate Publishing (January 27, 2015)

Review by Ioana Danaila

Ioana Danaila was born in Romania. She graduated from University Lyon 2 Lumière with a Masters in African Postcolonial Literature and a First degree in French for Non-Francophone people. She published a collection of short stories and translated books from French to Romanian. She speaks Romanian, French, English, and Spanish, and teaches English language and literature to highschool students in France.

 

The Miseducation of Obi Ifeanyi

41yp8iau2bnl-_sx331_bo1204203200_« Obi got home to find Ike asleep beside Nkechi while she watched television. Seeing the image of his family, the one he had consciously created, made it crystal clear to him that these two people were his main priority in life. This was his wife and his son, and he had chosen them. »

On New Year’s Day, Obi Ifeanyi, in his early thirties, happily married and a father, realizes he reached a critical point: is the life he has really the one he wants ? Is love really the way he imagined it ? Is responsibility harder to take that he thought ?

In the time span of one year, in the context of Obama’s second election, the characters of Achebe’s novel all seem to become suddenly aware of the complexity of human relations ; in his circle of educated and open-minded friends, Obi takes a step back from everything he thought he knew and question the values he was brought up to believe in, like marriage, loyalty, or love.

Chinedu Achebe’s novel could be read as a modern version of coming of age in a globalized world in which even growing up isn’t was what it used to be ; education is here replaced by miseducation as if to signify that coming of age evolves with time and society. At different times of their lives, the characters in the novel discover different faces of themselves in relations to others; some of these faces are positive, others are darker and less loyal than they thought.

So what happens when education meets miseducation ? When people meet new challenges and discover that even in older generations human relations were more complex than meets the eye? The characters are never more faced with their true nature than when novelty (be it a former lover, a new job, a new baby, the decision to get married) comes their way.

Obi’s new coming of age is realizing that things are never really what they seem. In a world of intercultural relations, where tradition is redefined and challenged, Obi becomes the icon of a generation who feels they do not have to identitify with something and stick to it, but rather becoming different with every experience.

The Miseducation of Obi Ifeanyi by Chinedu Achebe

978-1975784140 / CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (22 octobre 2017)

Review by Ioana Danaila

Ioana Danaila was born in Romania. She graduated from University Lyon 2 Lumière with a Masters in African Postcolonial Literature and a First degree in French for Non-Francophone people. She published a collection of short stories and translated books from French to Romanian. She speaks Romanian, French, English, and Spanish, and teaches English language and literature to highschool students in France.