“The taxi took a bend on a bridge, turning right.
I shut my eyes again, overcome by a sense of smallness as the buildings rose in their cold confidence. I shrank before them, before the broad road itself, before everything around me, the vast newness that was beginning to impose itself on my senses. I felt the conflicting contraction and expansion of my mind, the force and impact of the new. I was in the new, consciously aware of it, but the new was already throwing me out of control.”
Frank Jasper, a writer from Port Jumbo, Nigeria, is offered a scholarship in the United States to write “the African novel”. If in the beginning he is bewildered by this opportunity, his journey in the New World gradually becomes a synonym of disillusion and will make Jasper fall off love with a very coded society. His journey “in the new” as a metaphor for the Grace Land the United States represent for many foreigners will eventually guide him back to his roots and to a wider and more nuanced vision of life.
In his second novel, Timothy Ogene gives the reader not only a perspective on the United States from the outside, but also an insightful look into the publishing social sphere and its decorum. We can read the work as a metaliterary reflection on writing and on the echo words have on us that Ogene already evokes in his first novel The Day Ends Like Any Day. Through his approach to academic language in his second work, Ogene makes his readers think about what it really means to write in order to be connected to one’s home and to the reality separated from one’s dreams.
If the journey “in the new” is necessary to take distance from one’s own roots and received ideas, it also draws a back and forth movement between one’s past and family ties. A seesaw between then and now, between you and the others, between here and there, between appearances and reality.
Seesaw by Timothy Ogene
9-78-1800-750166 / Swift Press (2021)
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.