Books

5 Books, 1 City: eclectic reads from Lagos

Last time around I discussed five books, some well known, others not so well known, from Edinburgh. This week I’m bringing you five reads all based in Lagos, Nigeria.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This stunning novel is full of incredibly heart-wrenchingly beautiful writing. if you’ve never read Adichie’s work before I recommend this as an excellent starting point.

Blurb – As teenagers in Lagos, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love. Their Nigeria is under military dictatorship, and people are fleeing the country if they can. The self-assured Ifemelu departs for America. There she suffers defeats and triumphs, finds and loses relationships, all the while feeling the weight of something she never thought of back home: race. Obinze had hoped to join her, but post-9/11 America will not let him in, and he plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Thirteen years later, Obinze is a wealthy man in a newly democratic Nigeria, while Ifemelu has achieved success as a blogger. But after so long apart and so many changes, will they find the courage to meet again, face to face?

Easy Motion Tourist by Leye Adenle

I’ve not read this one myself yet but I’ve heard good things and seen some great reviews. I’ll definitely be picking it up sometime in the near future.

Blurb Easy Motion Tourist is a compelling crime novel set in contemporary Lagos, featuring Guy Collins, a British hack who stumbles into the murky underworld of the city. A woman’s mutilated body is discarded outside a club near one of the main hotels in Victoria Island. The police pick up Collins, a bystander, as a potential suspect. After experiencing the unpleasant realities of a Nigerian police cell, he is rescued by Amaka, a guardian angel of Lagos working girls. As Collins discovers more of the darker aspects of what makes Lagos tick—including the clandestine trade in organs—he also slowly falls for Amaka.

Looking for Transwonderland: Travels in Nigeria by Noo Saro-Wiwa

I’ve only recently started listening to this one on audio and I’m already hooked. While not solely focused on Lagos this travelogue is so evocative I couldn’t not include it in this list.

Blurb – Noo Saro-Wiwa was brought up in England, but every summer she was dragged back to Nigeria – a country she viewed as an annoying parallel universe where she had to relinquish all her creature comforts. Then her father, activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, was murdered there, and she didn’t return for 10 years. Recently, she decided to come to terms with the country her father loved. She travelled from the exuberant chaos of Lagos to the calm beauty of the eastern mountains; from the eccentricity of a Nigerian dog show to the empty Transwonderland Amusement Park. Looking for Transwonderland is an engaging portrait of a country whose beauty and variety few of us will experience, depicted with wit and insight by a refreshing new voice in contemporary travel writing.

Blackass by A. Igoni Barrett

I’ve had this one on my tbr for ages and ages but never quite gotten round to it yet. If any of you have read it please give me a shout and tell me your thoughts.

Blurb – Furo Wariboko – born and bred in Lagos – wakes up on the morning of his job interview to discover he has turned into a white man. As he hits the city streets running, still reeling from his new-found condition, Furo finds the dead ends of his life open out before him. As a white man in Nigeria, the world is seemingly his oyster – except for one thing: despite his radical transformation, Furo’s ass remains robustly black . . .

Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor

This is one I purposely went looking for to add to this list as I wanted to add a speculative/sci-fi read things that’s ma thing. This one sounds amazing and I’ve added it to my wish list.

Blurb – Three strangers, each isolated by his or her own problems: Adaora, the marine biologist. Anthony, the rapper famous throughout Africa. Agu, the troubled soldier. Wandering Bar Beach in Lagos, Nigeria’s legendary mega-city, they’re more alone than they’ve ever been before. But when something like a meteorite plunges into the ocean and a tidal wave overcomes them, these three people will find themselves bound together in ways they could never imagine. Together with Ayodele, a visitor from beyond the stars, they must race through Lagos and against time itself in order to save the city, the world… and themselves. ‘There was no time to flee. No time to turn. No time to shriek. And there was no pain. It was like being thrown into the stars.’

Now for the most important part of the whole post and the reason I chose Lagos this week…

Nigerian people are going through hell as they fight to #endSARS and the police brutality that comes with it. If you’re not fully up to speed with the situation I recommend this Vice article written by my friend Tolu. You can find out more, including how to help, by following the #endSARS hashtag on Twitter and Instagram.

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