All posts filed under: Books

Short Story Excerpt: Family Matters

When Renate checked, she saw that Preye had left a single message. Call Me. It was like her sister to be cryptic and annoying. Whatever it is, why didn’t she just text the entire message? Her hand hesitated over the green call button beside Preye’s name. What was the matter now? It was early evening still. As promised, Adeun had brought her to Freedom Park for the monthly Afropolitan Vibes. The band was still setting up and it wasn’t crowded, yet. Adeun had compared it to a concert gathering but it still seemed rather tame. They sat on a raised porch, facing an array of food bars and she’d ordered ofada rice; one of the few cravings she remembered from childhood. Adeun had tried to convince her the ofada wasn’t all that here. “I’ll take you somewhere else. They grind the pepper by hand.” “I’ll take what I get. When did you say they built this park?” “I guess 2010? I first came here in 2011 and…” He was interrupted by a squeal, “Deun!” He turned, …

2015 in Books: Classy, Sublime & Intelligent

In typical eurekanaija fashion, I’d like to talk about my favourite books of 2015. My criteria for this list are: Re-readability: I’d totally read these books again in 2016. Change factor: These books changed me or helped me find/create myself. Let’s jump right to it, shall we? 1. Emily Post’s Etiquette: Why:  I was talking with one of my friends early in the year and we lamented the fact that we didn’t go to finishing school. Etiquette is the next best thing. What I Loved: First published in 1922 and constantly updated since then, it remains an enduring reference point for good manners. Before you roll your eyes, it’s not just about using the right fork or the proper way to pour wine (even though I learned that too). The book continuously emphasizes the most important etiquette of being kind to other people. From tipping service staff (waiters, salon attendants) to putting phones away at dinner tables to proper behaviour at different places of worship to introducing people to each other so they aren’t left standing in awkward …

On Writivism, A Great Book I Read, Klo5 and Holiday Season in Nigeria

I’ve meant to blog about this for a while but I kept losing my drafts… Super late, I know but our Pemi won the Writivism Prize 2015! I say our Pemi because she’s ours… Lol. I’m not famzing, I promise. We’ve shared a bed (now I sound like I’m famzing). Anyhow, I’m super-pleased for her, and slightly envious that she got to go on holiday to Uganda as part of making the Writivism shortlist. And now I want to write more stories, so I can enter competitions that allow me go on holidays. Have you read Pemi’s deliciously scary story? Have you checked out the super-cool blog, Nik-Nak.co she collaborates on? Thank me later! I got this amazing book, The Art of Possibility by Ben and Roz Sander, a year ago from Ozoz of kitchenbutterfly.com fame. It’s slightly strange in that it’s not your typical self-help book. It’s not teaching you how to be the best XYZ but how to get to a point where being the best XYZ doesn’t matter. Here’s an example of one of …

Changes, Mid-Year Reviews and A Book I Loved

Hola! I’m so sorry for the long silence. I’m right in the middle of moving from one flat to another and while it’s not super hectic (because we’re taking our sweet time), it is taking up a lot of my energy. The 21-Day Challenge‘s ended! How did it go for you? I enjoyed it immensely (even though I skipped a few days, sha). I feel more…zen. And it forced me into a habit of only seeing the good things. I might have winked at my reflection a few times. And it’s halfway through the year. How are your plans going? Your resolutions? I feel slightly anxious about work. I’m getting to a place where I feel like I need a change, and soon. We’ll see… What books are you reading? A colleague at work recommended “The Rosie Project” by Graeme Simsion and I gobbled it in two days. Loved it. It’s the kind of love story I like and I could totally relate to the main character because I’m slightly obsessive too. Lol. I still …

Book Review: The Good Earth (a.k.a. Mo' Money, Mo' Problems)

 Like I’m not even kidding. The book should be called Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems. Because that’s what happened. Mr. Wang Lung starts the book as a poor man and as his fortunes change for better, for worse, so do his problems. Okay, no spoilers. But just remember: Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems. Why did I pick this book? I got it free of charge with my Kindle Unlimited subscription. It said “Pulitzer Winner” on the cover and I’m at that point in my life where I prioritize the books to read. Google says 150,000,000 books have been published in the world. Even if I read one book per day, I would need to live about 350,000 years. So I decided to only read prize winners. Yes, I know I’ll miss out on a lot of really fantastic books that haven’t won prizes. But hey, no time.  I find Pearl Buck’s writing style fascinating. I’m not sure if it was intentional but for a long time, the story is told from Wang Lung’s point of view. It …

The Oba's Word

Disclaimer: This post does not aim to preempt the gubernatorial election results in any state, in any way. Fiction. Strictly fiction, albeit inspired by real events.      The deed had been done. Despite all the Oba’s warnings, the Igbo (aided and abetted by other Yorubas the Urhobos, Ibibio, Bini, Esan, Kalabari, Hausas, Idoma etc.) had voted overwhelmingly against his candidate. The Oba was furious. “You must throw them in the lagoon, Kabiyesi. You promised. You are an Oba. You cannot go back on your word.” The Oba wrung his hands in vexation. “But the logistics of it, Asiwaju. Is the Lagoon big enough for over a million people? Is it deep enough? What if they can swim? How do I round them up?” The council fell silent for a bit. The Asiwaju glanced at the Balogun who studiously averted his gaze. He had counseled against this madness. Now look. “We could ask them to file out and make themselves available at the banks of the lagoon. They’re quite honest people. Just make an announcement …

These Words Expose Us…

So I have a bit of news 🙂 I may or may not have mentioned that one of my stories got accepted for publication in an anthology. The good news is that the anthology is finally out! *rings bell* The anthology is titled, “These Words Expose Us” (intriguing, I know) and the theme is words. We were challenged to “explore just how important the words we say (or don’t say to each other), affect our lives and relationships with others sometimes for the better and sometimes unfortunately, the worse”. A lot of the stories did justice to that theme, if I do say so myself 🙂 But seriously, the stories and the writing are pretty good. I’m especially proud of the fact that more Africans are starting to own our writing space, as writers and publishers.  We’ve been a bit hesitant, I think and this project is a step towards challenging the status quo. We’re telling our own stories, and we’re telling them with a nod to the past, a grasp of our present reality and our eyes on the …

Conversations With a Gold Digger

But I got bored with Excel sheets, and VLOOKUP and Pivot tables so I decided to doodle instead. And I wrote this. Hope it relieves the doldrums of your Monday like it did mine. Her: I have a date tomorrow. Him: Do you now? Her: Yup! Him: Is he tall, dark and handsome? Her: Yup! Him: Is he rich? Her: Stinking rich. Him: He’s going to use you and dump you. Her: How do you know that? Him: Because guys like him don’t date girls like you with your Erykah Badu hair and your weird political ideas. Her: I do not have weird political ideas. Him: You think Mandela was a communist! Her: But he was. Him: Tall, dark and handsome men don’t become rich holding opinions like that. You aren’t suited for each other. It’ll be all over in a week. Her: You’re just jealous. Him: Of course I am. How can you go on a date with a tall, dark, handsome and rich fella? What if he steals you away from me? Her: …

Which Were Your Favourite Books of 2013?

 The year’s winding up, and as usual, I want to find out which of the books you read in 2013 had the most effect on you, and why. Please share your favourite fiction book, and your favourite non-fiction book. You can reply in the comments’ section and you can take the conversation to Twitter/Facebook with the hashtag #abookIreadin2013.  I’ll go first.  Favourite Fiction Book of 2013: This was a difficult choice because I read so many fantastic books this year. But Khaled Hosseini’s “And The Mountains Echoed” wins, beating “Children of the Jacaranda Tree” and “Burma Boy”. I love how Khaled writes, I love his stories, I love the sense of kinship I feel with Afghans after reading his books. I totally recommend this book. Favourite Non-Fiction Book of 2013: This was an easy choice. Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In (labelled the “Feminist Bible” in some circles) is a thought-provoking book for women who have careers outside of their homes. I don’t agree with all of Sheryl’s ideas (e.g. I don’t think it’s as easy as she makes it …

This Is How.

This is how to break up with the juvenile, codeine addict who fancies himself Goth because he paints his fingernails black and wears black eyeliner. This is how to pretend to be miserable, because you’re supposed to be miserable after a break-up. This is how to blog about it. This is how to live life; a series of Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday-Friday-Saturday-Sundays that never get old, never change. This is how to be a yuppie. This is how to dress like a yuppie, in chiffon blouses and pencil-skirts and kitty heels. This is how to spend like a yuppie; on expensive cab rides, handbags purchased from Dubai, ice cream at Coldstone and movies with friends. This is how to wrap your box braids in a bun. This is how to arch an eyebrow. This is how to smile at a man you like; coy and charming. This is how to smile at a man you don’t like; looking him straight in the eye. This is how to smile at a woman so she feels flattered. This is how …

Flight.

K: I’ll pick you from the airport. Me: No, thanks. 10 hours later, I wonder how I’ll find my way from the airport. What if “Something” happens? What if my flight gets delayed and I take a taxi to my destination late at night and I get robbed or Something because I’m this petite, light-skinned woman (read: easy mark)? It’s impossible that I could be strong, you see. No one thinks you can be, not when you’re fair and petite and female. I should have taken K’s offer. Why do women like to be chased? Airport. The boarding announcement comes on and we all shuffle to the tarmac. All of us will be dead in 100 years. And it should evoke some sort of camaraderie, shouldn’t it? But it doesn’t. We are ignoring one another. It’s strange, considering that we could be deathday mates. What if? What if our plane, this plane that Arik has christened “Michael” were to fall out of the sky? We would die together. Approach the pearly gates together. Our families …

How To Make The Perfect Jollof Rice

O.,   How do I make the perfect Jollof Rice?   R.     Dear R.,   Are you expecting a recipe? I have none. I do have a few tips I don’t mind sharing.   Cook for at least 4 people. Invite your friends/family. Or invite the strangers that you met at the bus-stop the last time it rained so heavy, you got to work at noon. Do you remember? You exchanged numbers with the guy and his sister and eventually hitched a ride with them when her fiance came to pick them. You’ve never gotten around to calling her. You should.   Blend a lot of onions into the tomatoes, don’t use tinned tomato puree. Add a quarter of a ginger root. Monitor the water, add it a little at a time.   Pretend you’re on a cooking show. Maybe Maggi Kitchen ( is that show still on air?) or Shokoyokoto. Say each step to yourself out loud. “Now, I’m adding a dash of Cameroon pepper.” It’s a lot of fun and no, …

Brother's Keeper

 If you asked me, it, the beginning of the end, started one Sunday evening, with a phone call from my brothers’ principal that said Datonye and Damiebi had been suspended for a month. They could have been twins, my older brothers. Odd, considering their different mothers. Datonye, my half-brother, was a year older than Damiebi and the result of a fling my father never spoke about, not even to my mother. If she resented this or him, she hid it well. Damiebi – her firstborn, her pride – was, after all, my father’s legitimate heir. If Datonye resented this, he hid it even better. They were close, for half brothers. Best friends, confidants, twins if you didn’t know better. And so perhaps, you understand why they did what they did. “What offence this time?” my father asked, his face a mask of irritation. Two boys had been sighted kissing in an empty classroom on Friday night. Both had escaped, one without his ‘D. Carpenter’ monogrammed sweater. On one hand, there was Datonye, with his tattoos and love for …

Some Stories Shouldn't Have Titles

There are many ways to destroy a life. Stop. It’s just life, you see. Just life. Everyday. Wake up, eat breakfast (rice), fight with little brother on the way to school, sit through boring classes, get caned by the soldiers ’cause we’re all such noise-makers, go for lunch break (meatpie and Coke), sit through more boring classes, submit assignments, go home, wash dishes, wash uniform, eat dinner (eba and okro), watch the news with Daddy, gossip with Mommy, sleep. It’s just life. Stop. Ordinary. Boring. Simple. Sitting in mass and wondering. Wanting more. More. More of something that doesn’t even exist. The sameness. God, the sameness. Homework. Books. Dirty socks. Missing earrings. Why is life nothing like American movies? It just happens. Someone’s birthday. Something different. Not so different, these parties are all the same. Too much rice, chicken fried too dry, Coke, Fanta and because someone is feeling cool, the occasional beer. The music will be too loud, and everyone will shout, “YAY!” every time the song changes. And sixteen is too young to …

Dear Random-Guy-Who-Asked-If-He-Could-Share-My-Mini-Umbrella-At-The-Busstop

Dear Random-Guy-Who-Asked-If-He-Could-Share-My-Mini-Umbrella-At-The-Busstop, I don’t judge you for not having your own umbrella. I don’t even hesitate when you ask if you can share mine, despite seeing how small it is, and how it really is only meant to shelter one small person from the rain. Me. I don’t complain that I have to raise it really high now, to accommodate your hulk, or that my genuine L. Credi bag is now getting wet. I don’t complain because I’m only doing the Christian thing by sharing. There is love in sharing etc. etc. etc. However, you stretch my charity  by presuming that because I’m sharing my umbrella, then I am open to conversation. Please understand. Do not feel obliged to fill the silence. It may not be companionable, but it is certainly not awkward. I was lost in my thoughts before you came along, I will continue to be lost in my thoughts. Your attempts at conversation are, at best, distractions. At worst, annoying. “It’s like you’re not in a good mood,” you say after giving …

On The Farafina Workshop

The first thing I miss is waking  up to memories of last night’s Smirnoffs. Waking up to the thought of breakfast with my literary kindred:  litres of orange juice and mounds of French toast disappearing as we lament the fact that we have been irresponsible and not typed one sentence decent enough to be read in class, much less critiqued. Liars! I miss sitting in the Coaster bus, gossiping about our tutors as we wait for Buchi (perennial latecomer that she is) to prance downstairs so we can go for class. I miss  posing for pictures. I miss how the room brightened when Chimamanda walked in bearing apples and Ferrero Rochers (because we were such great students 😀 ) I miss the laughter during lunch at the Lagos Resource Centre where we held our sessions from 10 am to 5 pm (sometimes 7). The workshop was many things. New friends. Self discovery. Surprises. I would find out that Chimamanda did not read the entry I sent in; someone sent her the link to one of …

A Really, Really, Really Brief Writing Workshop

In a few weeks’ time, two writing workshops will begin. The first is organized by the Farafina Trust and hosted by Chimamanda Adichie. The second is organized by Fidelity Bank and hosted by Helon Habila. Understandably, not a few wannabe authors are anxious about being selected. The hosts are big names in the industry and for many people, yours truly included, the opportunity to interact with them is one to die for. Almost. The truth is that not everyone will get in. Sucks big time. Word on the street is that Farafina Trust received about four hundred applications. Only twenty people will get picked. Daunting odds. My stomach goes all funny at the thought of it. And so, to take my mind off it, I am reviewing everything I’ve learned about creative writing. If I don’t get in for either of the workshops (sigh), I’ll re-read John Gardner’s Art of Fiction and hope I get in next year. 🙂 So here goes. My mini creative writing workshop.  I won’t say I’ve been faithful to them …