Murder at Midnight

Murder At Midnight (English Edition) eBook: Ukah, John: Amazon.fr

For me, visiting Kinging Guest Lodge in the Obudu Ranch Resort of Cross River State is always like coming home. I had visited the Lodge earlier in the year; if my memory served me well, it had been in January. The area is reputed to have the most clement weather in the country. With the beautiful beaches, gardens, waterparks and leisure spots, the Obudu Ranch Resort is a haven for tourists. The springing up of guest-houses that boast decent facilities and affordable rates, has also turned the place into a holiday-maker’s delight. Some people come here on doctors’ orders, to recuperate from one ailment or the other.

Who would think that such a quiet and soothing place is the setting of a series of murders ? Certainly not Mr Simpson, a retired policeman who goes to Kinging Guest Lodge, in Cross River State in Nigeria, and witnesses a crime which, surprisingly enough, brings the guests together.

In an impressive display of characters, the narrator introduces the reader a microcosm where human flaws, vices, but also dreams and hopes, come to light. John Ukah’s writing is like a murmuring river echoing the characters’s voices flowing into one another. Beyond the plot of a sophisticated and classical crime novel lies a “cozy mystery” that focuses on looking into the maze of the human soul. Such is the mission of Mr Simpson, an avatar of the writer and the character all the others confess to.

Murder at Midnight, John Ukah’s first novel, is a way to reconstruct not only the genre of crime novels (it “leaves the reader wanting more” as the publisher rightly says), but also the way humans relate to one another in extreme situations ; what they become and how they move on after death enters the scene and makes the world stand still for some time. John Ukah’s style, elegant, slow-paced writing, reveals a new perspective on “cozy mysteries”.

An author whose work must be known, read and passed on.

Murder at Midnight by John Ukah

ISBN : 978-9785470710

Published by THE FEARLESS STORYTELLER HOUSE EMPORIUM LTD (November, 2016).

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Ioana Danaila was born in Romania. She has a PhD in Nigerian Postcolonial Literature and a First degree in French for Non-Francophone people. She is also the author of a collection of short stories and translated books from French to Romanian. Trilingual in Romanian, French and English, she teaches English language and literature to highschool students in France.

Transcendent Kingdom : A Novel

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi: 9780525658184 | PenguinRandomHouse.com:  Books

” In my bedroom my mother still lay underneath a cloud of covers. A sound like a purr floated out from her lips. I’d been living alone for so long, that even that soft noise, hardly more than a hum, unnerved me. I’d forgotten what it was like to live with my mother, to care for her. For a long time, most of my life, in fact, it had been mostly me and her, but this pairing was unnatural. She knew it and I knew it, and we both tried to ingore what we knew to be true—there used to be four of us, then three, then two. When my mother goes, whether by choice or not, there will be only one. “

Gifty is a brilliant scientist who spends her life in her laboratory studying mice. Little by little, she has reduced human contact to the bare minimum and dedicated her time to the study of something she gradually discovers to be her family’s story. When her mother, in a state of deep depression, comes to live with her, Gifty starts reaching back to her past.

From her parents’ arrival from Ghana to the United States, to her brother’s death and her own career as a neuroscientist, Yaa Gyasi’s second novel unfolds on several layers : what it means to be black in America ; how science and religion, no longer clearly opposed but intertwined, mirror humanity ; how people deal with loss.

In this brilliant work, Yaa Gyasi tackles some poignant topics such as depression, addiction, science and religion, or discrimination. The laboratory becomes the universe of human lives, and mice become the image of individuals struggling to live and hopefully understand what, and why, is happening to them. Yaa Gyasi shows once more her talent and her concern with her contemporary world. If in her first novel, No Home, the narrative has a multiple focalization, in Transcendent Kingdom Gifty, the only focalizer, offers a deeper perspective on America today and on loss, love and science.

When Gifty’s mother, her life’s landmark, comes to live with her, the protagonist’s journey to Ghana is the beginning of a journey of the mind. The brilliant to-and-forth between past and present makes us readers believe that it is in the time of our own mind that all things can be understood and accepted. A brilliant novel by a remarkable author.

Transcendent Kingdom : A Novel by Yaa Gyasi

ISBN : 978-0525658184

Published by Knopf (September 1, 2020) .

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Ioana Danaila was born in Romania. She has a PhD in Nigerian Postcolonial Literature and a First degree in French for Non-Francophone people. She is also the author of a collection of short stories and translated books from French to Romanian. Trilingual in Romanian, French and English, she teaches English language and literature to highschool students in France.

“Springtime Memoirs” and Other Poems

SPRINGTIME MEMOIRS

” Shortly before noon’s dusk, December 7th 2012 A.D,

I sat on a wooden bench at the bank of the Niger,

glancing at the sun set below horizon and

reminisced on several odysseys of yesteryears;

I reminisced on days when our bodies were

left bare to be extolled by the nakedness of nature,

a feeling even fresher than the finest of wines;

days when we explored dunghills, searching for

the primordia of our pedigree, when houseflies

threw parties on our nostrils and we sucked it’s(mucus) nectar,

days when whips from cables exorcised adamantine from our

spirits and slaps were supernatural elixirs that cured

maladies in our frames. “

Angry youth fighting for dignity. Prostitutes whose beauty and harsh lives equal those of tragic heroins. Landscapes of breath-taking beauty. Such is the world in Daniel Ezeokeke’s poetry, an ode to words and beauty facing danger and violence.

This young poet comes from Anambra State in Igboland, Nigeria. His convoluted sentences give the setting a particular intensity, sublimating the dull reality of everyday life. Ezeokeke sees poetry as a means of “means of escapism from society undergoing decay and degradation”. His elegant, refined language has a distinct visual power that reminds the reader of the poetry of Chinua Achebe, a source of inspiration for Ezeokeke.

Aware of the realities of his country, criticizing social misery and political lack of morality and action, this talented poet encourages his readers to become lovers of beauty and justice in order to transform this society into a better world.

Find out more about his poems and work at https://danielezeokeke.blogspot.com/

Poems by Daniel Ezeokeke

Review by Ioana Danaila

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Ioana Danaila was born in Romania. She has a PhD in Nigerian Postcolonial Literature and a First degree in French for Non-Francophone people. She is also the author of a collection of short stories and translated books from French to Romanian. Trilingual in Romanian, French and English, she teaches English language and literature to highschool students in France.

The Enchanted Gift

” That night, as Siyonna lay on her bed waiting for sleep to come, she thought about what Ebele had said. She had always suspected a certain peculiarity about her necklace but had never for one moment thought of it as being magical. (…) She shuddered. If only she could speak to Ma Mabel. Was she in danger ? Would the necklace always be there to protect her ? How far could she go ? As she nodded off, she could still hear Ma Mabel’s voice saying, keep the necklace close to you, it will bring you luck.

On the eve of her sister’s wedding, Siyonna goes into the woods and meets Ma Mabel, a mysterious character who gives her an unexpected gift. This object will accompany the protagonist throughout the novel in different ways, from a discreet presence to a strong protective force.

Between the initial setting of her sister’s traditional Igbo wedding and the backstreets of London, Siyonna grows up to become an adult in a modern world tinted with objects and beliefs from her ancestors’ land. This pleasant novel takes us inside her family circle, then with her friends and finally in a more unfamiliar setting in Britain. Under the rather light tone and the transparent language lies the story of a young girl’s coming-of-age, a girl who lives increasingly between two cultures, the Igbo and the British.

In this thrilling novel, mainly destined to teenagers and young adults, the necklace stands out as a lucky charm. Is it destiny or chance ? In our contemporary world, where people may feel lost between several spaces and cultures, the necklace, an image of “visual magic”, is, as John Mozie says, “an unseen hand guiding you”.

The Enchanted Gift by John Mozie

ISBN : 9-78-1913 653699

Published by Michael Terrence Publishing, Dollobies Ldt. and John Mozie, 2020.

Review by Ioana Danaila

Ioana Danaila was born in Romania. She has a PhD in Nigerian Postcolonial Literature and a First degree in French for Non-Francophone people. She is also the author of a collection of short stories and translated books from French to Romanian. Trilingual in Romanian, French and English, she teaches English language and literature to highschool students in France.

 

The Smilodon

2940164182991_p0_v1_s550x406” Jonathan had to grow uo fast to adapt the changes that were happening around him. After school, he would go to his uncle’s house to have lunch and pick up Richie who now spent the day there because Joyce would be at work. They would then go home together. As brothers, they grew closer.

(…) Next to losing his father, leaving Richie to go to the boarding, was one of the most painful experiences Jonathan had had at this point in his life. (…) As he was about to depart the following morning, Richie would not let go of him as they embraced. They both sobbed as a deep sense of loss engulfed them yet again.

At this tender age, deep in Jonathan’s psyche, a picture of what type of woman his heart would yearn for was already imprinted and it was what his mother wasn’t. “

A bar in modern-day Dar Es Salaam. Emilie and Jonathan have just broken up. Jonathan, who ends everything, is not yet fully aware of the true reason of his decision.

As the story moves on, we discover a thirty-year old protagonist who, in his quest for comfort and love, unconsciously does everything to make a chaos out of his life to run away from responsibility and facing reality. When he meets Emilie, Jonathan feels unworthy of her because he is not rich and successful. From the break-up to the struggle to get and keep a job, his haunting childhood experiences rush into his present life and sometimes prevent him from seeing things clearly.

E. K. Ndanguzi’s novel has a cinematographic dimension to it which makes the scenes and the dialogues move before the reader’s eyes. This vividly visual and kinematic novel depicts the inner landscape of a universal character who, like everybody else, is afraid of the unknown effect of his past on him, as well as of facing his own life.

This haunting shadow is epitomized by the smilodon, an ancient species of tiger which used to terrorize all the animals (including the forefathers of the human beings), yet whose presence is seldom seen. Therefore, the smilodon was not so much present per se as he was in the minds and the imagination of the others who feared him ; his aura outlives him. At the end of the day, the author seems to tell us, our deepest fears only exist in our own minds, and they are our own smilodons.

The Smilodon by E. K. Ndanguzi

Published on June 30th, 2020.

Review by Ioana Danaila

Ioana Danaila was born in Romania. She has a PhD in Nigerian Postcolonial Literature and a First degree in French for Non-Francophone people. She is also the author of a collection of short stories and translated books from French to Romanian. Trilingual in Romanian, French and English, she teaches English language and literature to highschool students in France.

The Dictatorship Syndrome

9781912208593 ” Whenever I enter or exit Egypt, the authorities pull me to one side and make me wait as they go through my suitcase twice before letting me go. Had they found material for a book, they would have confiscated it and had it examined by a commitee of officers and I would then have, most probably, been hauled off to court and seen levelled against me yet another charge of “slandering the institutions of state”.

This kind of censorship is just one of the many reasons why I believe that we, now more than at any other time, need to understand the dictatorship syndrome. The victims of dictatorship worldwide outnumber those struck down by any disease. “

Dictatorship : a chronical disease affecting both individuals and societies.

Dictators : individuals who take advantage of a fragile political and social situation of a nation in order to manipulate it.

Causes for the development of this disease : social, economic and political crises, need for an almighty ruler who could regulate everything, whatever that means and whatever the costs.

Symptoms : a great deal of trust in that absolute ruler, intolerance towards social and cultural difference, fear of change.

Alaa Al Aswany presents the reader the “dictatoship syndrome” in a radiography-like essay : with the medical precision echoing the author’s initial profession, dictatorships are analysed, diagnosed and hopefully cured just as one would do with diseases. Indeed, Al Aswany’s thesis is that dictatorships are a form of social, political, and cultural disease affecting peoples and nations.

This analysis joins together the author’s literary talent and his sharp observation of people’s lives and societies. From friends’ stories to historical phenomena, Al Aswany revisits the evolution of dictatorships in several countries through the lense of both an individual, a writer, a medical doctor and a committed citizen. His observations pay respect to his critical view of political excesses which prevent inidivudals as well as societies from thinking freely.

If Al Aswany supports his arguments with examples from several countries with their own social and cultural specificity, thr overall message is to urge the reader to favour freedom over (apparent) safety, criticism over ideology, education over obedience.

Prevention and possible cure : being informed and developping critical views. In short, thinking freely.

The Dictatorship Syndrome by Alaa Al Aswany

978-1-912208-59-3 / Haus Publishing (2019)

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 is the author of a collection of short stories and translated books from French to Romanian. She is trilingual in Romanian, French and English, and teaches English language and literature to highschool students in France.

Umtata

9781838591403 “A town can change a character quickly; one can revisit after only a few months and find it is not the same place as it was when one left.

Times change and local councils spend money on new identity just like Barney urgently wanted. (…) The visitor is lost, and it becomes unrecognisable.

When a child leaves their home town where they were born and reared, and moves to pastures green, on their return years later they may find that the roads and fields they scurried around as a child no longer exist; only the memories. ”

Like the town in this quote, can a dramatic event make a man’s character also change?

In this interesting sequel of The Compassionate Terrorist, the reader meets again Barney the fraudster and aggressor: after running away from the Shetlands and being a homeless man in London, he is now hiding in a small South African town. However, when he meets Naomi, a young mother of two children who have disappeared, Barney takes part in their finding, hoping deep inside this will redeem himself.

Unlike the other novels before, this new novel is inspired by real people, and is qualified by the author as “suspense / romance”. Indeed, suspense, love stories, betrayal are only some of the ingredients of this heart-racing story. At the heart of Brian Godfrey’s novel, the characters of Naomi and Barney are like the opposite sides of humanity; with its good and its bad sides, the relation between the two protagonists sometimes questions the very idea of crime and guilt. While Naomi is an innocent victim of manipulation, Barney, the former fraudster who wants to help her, will be faced with consequences he had never thought of. In his search for Naomi’s children, Barney will also search his own way to redemption. Is he becoming a helper or is he still a conman?

Umtata by Brian Godfrey

978-183859 1 403 / Matador (2020)

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 is the author of a collection of short stories and translated books from French to Romanian. She is trilingual in Romanian, French and English, and teaches English language and literature to highschool students in France.

Be(com)ing Nigerian : A Guide

61galnvco0lHOW TO DIE

1. You have to first understand that death is not a noun or a state. It is an event, the success of which requires proper planning.

2. One way to die is to ensure that in life, you did something worth remembering. This action need not be good or exemplary. In Nigeria no one cares if you were good or evil when you die. The only crime is dying without having done anything worthy of note. Like dying so poor no one knows your name. Death, especially that of someone rich or powerful, confers sainthood that cannot be challenged. (…) So, please, to die in Nigeria, acquire power and wealth.”

Welcome to Nigeria, natives and non natives, and prepare to set on a journey to a country that never ceases to stimulate the imagination of its inhabitants and travelers; a country where the good and the bad coexist in such a harmonious way that one cannot always tell the difference between them.

Godly laws and mysteries (written in “The Gospel according to Nigeria”), how to succeed in life, how to behave, how to speak, how to perform in society, how to die—here are some of the lessons that Elnathan John teaches his readership.

In a biting tone, John offers us a picture of what Nigeria looks like, and provides a comprehensive guide to what one should expect when living or traveling there. Funny, sarcastic, bitter sweet, this lucid satire reveals what excesses of power, corruption, and lack of education lead to, that is a society that suffers more than it benefits from political measures.

This hilarious and brilliant read criticizes universal vices and weaknesses in a fiercely free voice. It doesn’t apologize, doesn’t try to embellish things, doesn’t want to please. As the author says, “never, ever, explain satire”.

Be(com)ing Nigerian: A Guide by Elnathan John

978-1-911115-96-0 / Cassava Republic (2019)

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 is the author of a collection of short stories and a translator of books from French to Romanian. She is trilingual in Romanian, French and English, and teaches English language and literature to highschool students in France.

An Orchestra of Minorities

41pun2lp0tl“He lay by her, saying words which―although she, he and I alone could hear―were also heard in the realm beyond man as thunderous acclamations meant for the ears of man and spirits, the dead and the living, for the moment and for ever : ‘I have found it ! I have found it ! I have found it !’

Thus speaks Chinonso’s chi, the Igbo term for personal spirit or personal god, in favour of his host’s redemption, a plea which becomes the novel itself. Chinonso, the protagonist, has a remarkable story told by a spirit who has the complex role of defending him while observing with a neutral eye his every move, thought and feeling.

The story begins when Chinonso sees a young woman on a bridge ready to jump in the water and take her life, and convinces her not to. Ndali, a wealthy pharmacist-to-be, and Chinonso, a young farmer, begin a relationship which turns their world upside down and transforms everything around them. In an sobre tone, the chi often reminds the enthusiastic humans of their fragility and hopelessness, like Chinonso’s poultry in the sight of the hawk.

In a world where the dead are not dead and the spirits communicate with humans, the elegant language of Obioma’s second novel is itself the result of the mixture of English, Igbo and Nigerian pidgin. Infused with notions and images from the Igbo religious universe, the narrative unfolds under the form of a long and elaborate plea to defend the human nature and its inevitable mistakes. Although accustomed to the humans’ ways, the protagonist’s chi never ceases to marvel at the power love has over life, at how it can both elevate and destroy a man’s soul. In a sophisticated mixture of Igbo cosmology and ancient Greek tragedy, Chigozie Obioma’s brilliant novel advocates love as an overwhelming power which burns down everything on its way.

An Orchestra of Minorities by Chigozie Obioma

978-0-349-14318-7 / Norton (2019)

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 is the author of a collection of short stories and a translator of books from French to Romanian. She is trilingual in Romanian, French and English, and teaches English language and literature to highschool students in France.

Travelers

71ffb35osblGina stayed at her parents for six months, and it was while she was there that she applied for the Zimmer. Exactly six months to the day she left, she walked into our tiny apartment, her eyes shining with hope and excitement as she showed me the Zimmer fellowship email. That night she didn’t go back to her parents’. We lay in one another’s arms all night long. Berlin. Maybe this was what we needed. A break from our breaking-apart life.”

When a young couple move to Berlin to save their relationship, they have no idea that they would discover people whose stories will influence their lives and decisions forever. Instead of the “break” they imagined they would benefit from, they discover a world few people know and even fewer want to enter. As the novel moves on, the unnamed narrator and his wife Gina meet people from around the world who migrated to Europe in search of a better life.

In this novel in which almost every chapter is told by a different narrator, the travelers’ lives open up another world for the reader: from a character in prison to one who moves from one country to another to save his daughter from a forced marriage, all of them have a story to tell and, by doing so, their stories become means for them to be acknowledged by the others as dignified humans and not only as anonymous migrants.

The narrator’s story that mirrors all the others reminds us of Waiting for An Angel. Helon Habila writes a masterful study of human lives in all their complexity, and even more so in the context of dramatic displacement, the perfect setting for seeing what people are ready to do to survive, to save their dignity, and to sacrifice for their loved ones. The brilliant, powerful stories in Habila’s novel show us that, at the end of the day, we are all travelers through life and we all live to connect with others on this journey.

Travelers by Helon Habila

978-0-393-23959-1 / Norton (2019)

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 is the author of a collection of short stories and a translator of books from French to Romanian. She is trilingual in Romanian, French and English, and teaches English language and literature to highschool students in France.