« 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.