Books for February – Oluwaseyi G. Abidoye

I am happy I was able to meet up with my reading target for the month of January. I guess just knowing a few people are following this blog and patiently waiting for my writings is enough urge to finish reading the books (Things Fall Apart and Memoirs of a Geisha) I set out to read. Check my feedback and reviews on them here and here in the order listed above.

For the month of February, I will be reading Okey Nide’s Foreign Gods Inc. and James Marlon’s A Brief History of Seven Killings. I caught particular interest in these books while following the Ake Book and Arts Festival last year. I am going to be reading them both in paper form.

Image of A Brief History of Seven Killings courtesy of rnib.org.uk and image of Foreign Gods Inc. courtesy of amazon.com

Advertisements

A Reading of Arthur Golden’s ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’ – Oluwaseyi G. Abidoye

In Nigeria, where I live, Geisha is canned mackerel fish preserved in salty tomato paste, so when I came across this book during one of my net surfing sessions, I googled the word ‘Geisha’ and the result that popped up prompted me to read the book.

I found out that a Geisha is a traditional Japanese female entertainer who acts as hostess and whose skills include performing various arts such as classical music, dance, games and conversation, mainly to entertain male customers, they are also known as comfort women. There is a history of abuse and molestation of these women during the world war II by the Japanese soldiers and recent news wave about Japanese compensation and apologies to victims of the abuse.

geisha

Memoirs of a Geisha  is a Japanese historical and cultural fiction, a debut of the author, Arthur Golden and a bulky read of about 600+ pages.  it is the story of Geisha, who grew up in the era before the world war two in Japan. Arthur Golden is a professor of Japanese history of American origin, so the prompting contextual concept of the book is basically historical and research oriented. one major book said to have influenced the writing of the Memoirs of a Geisha is  Geisha by Liza Dalby, an American woman who actually became a Geisha.

The book is told in the voice of Nitta Sayuri, who relates her painstaking story of how she became a Geisha. Plucked from her little seaside village of Yoroido, and made into a bittersweet woman in the alluring city of Gion as a Geisha. Stripped of her family she sought to regain her happiness in a lifelong struggle by winning the love of ‘Chairman’, a man whom she greatly love and admire.

Having no prior interest or exposure about Japanese culture or literature I found the metaphor and imagery of water and wood quite boring and too frequent, so I skimmed through the instances of such recurrences. The characters appear vague and seem to be represented by an imagery which constitute their cultural existence, more like a conscious cultural craft.

The book reads like a journey, full of description, carefully laid out to ensure one does not miss his/her way. With less conversation, it compels listening than observing, and that makes it a page turner, because it captures the attention of the reader. There is a lot of expose on the life a Giesha adopts out of no choice and perfect subjectivity and obedience to a structured lifestyle that renders the feminine nature as a commodity and an object of satisfaction to a male dominated ‘club’ or culture.

The book serves an emotional meal, with Nitta Sayuri as the compelling flavour that make one want to continue the reading to the end, after which one is unsure which exact situation is making one’s eyes clouded with tears, her love-hate experience or the uncertainty about her love quest with the chairman, or her eventual happiness. Whichever one is bound to share Sayuri’s experience and feel for her emotional struggles and life journey.

It is basically a love story, packaged in a plot that is common for a love heist that ends in a ‘happily ever after’ way. You will need to read the book to capture all rushing, rolling and falling emotions of grieve, loss, identity, pain, and love. I must say it is an interesting read.  You can place an order for the book here.

Now I can go ahead and see the movie.

THE MAN AND HIS BOOK – Abidoye Oluwaseyi Gideon

Inseparable from his classic, Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe can never be forgotten. He was clearly a man that walked on the rocks and took his time to etch his footprints on them. On Things Fall Apart, the simplicity and care he employed in the delivery of the story, yet not losing its underlying meaning, political, historical and cultural contextual essence is explicitly valuable and exemplary. The text has become a reference point for the mode of African prose delivery and experience.
achebe jpg
Chinua made himself a world literary citizen. Even to generations unborn, Things Fall Apart would always be a right of passage into modern African Prose and Literature. His overwhelming influence and mark on the African literary world cannot be under emphasized.

On my last walk with him through the pages of There was A country, I endlessly imagined for several hours the great hope that laid in the hands of the educated Nigerian Youth during Achebe’s growing time. I can never stop to imagine that really, there was a country, Nigeria in her full glory and pride.

After the reading, i somehow reached a conclusion that Things Fall Apart grew out from the part of Achebe’s heart that loved his root, yet embraced the western culture. As a child he loved reading so much he had read most English Literature Classics for the fun of it… No wonder he finally gave Nwoye, Okonkwo’s son to the missionary,killed Okonkwo, and gave room for a new beginning.

Despite his embrace of western education, the African in him never took it well with Conrad’s description of Africans. In essence, Achebe abhorred discrimination, racism, and down to his roots in Nigeria, marginalization. On specific accounts, Achebe has fought for Africans, Nigeria and the Igbo nation. He seemed to have taken grounds to boldly stand for every layer of his black identity, right from the top, continental, to the bottom, local. Achebe was proud of his origin to the very end.

His loyalty to the African nation, Nigeria (when there was a country), Biafra & the entire Igbo nation is admirable, and undoubtedly courageous. More than a great loss to the entire world, Literature and Nigeria as a whole, Achebe is an irreplaceable great loss to the Igbo nation. In all that could have been written to describe him and his relations in this world, this words should also find a place among them, Chinua Achebe : A Man of His People, A Citizen of the World.

On The Rebirth: My Reading and Writing – Oluwaseyi G. Abidoye

I love reading, give my books, drinks and a quiet room; you might not see me outside that room in days. I love writing too, and I have scattered pieces of my random writings in a few spaces on the internet. This year, I hope to put them all together on this blog for good. God help me.

The year 2015 was amazing for me. I took down two old blogs in the month of August and started being an onlooker in the Nigeria Literary scene; I started following the fiction writings of Nigeria authors and a few east and Southern Africa authors. I was doing this; having in mind how and what my new blog look like.

While watching the scenes from the shadows, I took a few bold steps to paddle my armature poetry in the corridors of few African literary blogs and got rejected at every attempt, the latest being in December 2015. I took all the rejections in good strides hoping they will someday become the testimonies of my better writings to come.

I particularly followed two literature festivals last year, The Lagos International Poetry Festival and the illustrious and epic Ake Book and Arts Festival. The former I planned to attend, but after many thoughts I backed down, I just felt I did not prepare enough. Not much planning, and so many things I needed to put in place failed, being a non spontaneous person, I postponed, hoping for a better event this year and already planning ahead.

As for The Ake Books and Arts Festival I did not attend too, I never planned to do because I would not have had the time due to my day job, but I followed it religiously on You Tube and Twitter. I found it interesting and very informing, inspiring too. I did not know much about the festival, only that Lola Shoneyin is the curator and I have had previous encounters with her poetry and fiction, I find them very good pieces. I stalked the event and I had my fill.

I very much hope I can attend the next episodes of these events (if my day job allows me, because due to an upgrade of status I am not entitled to any working leave this year, only two weeks off. Yes poor me) and write about them on this blog.

Chimamanda Adichie, Elnathan John, Abubakar Adam Ibrahim, Chika Unigwe especially rocked my literary work last year, and many others like A. Igoni Barret, Chris Abani, Toni Kan, Dami Ajayi, Jumoke Verrisimo and so on, I cannot mention them all. Pa Ikhide, Brittle Paper, Wawa Book Review, Saraba Magazine’s chapbooks so many other interesting literary blogs warmed up my brain and fine tuned my reading experience. I had a wonderful experience reading these writers’ works and reading these blogs. Garcias!

As I said earlier, I was walking in the shadows. Now I am ready to come out. I hope for the love of it that I do not go back in. This blog will take no particular form; all I will do is read books from book clubs and write my little review, work on my collection of poetry and short stories and write about how they are coming up. Also I will write about events in African literary scenes with special attention to West Africa and Nigeria, likewise some bits of current affairs, commentary and opinion will feature on it. I hope the journey is smooth and consistent.

This month, I am re-reading the classic, Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart along with other members of the Wawa Book Club in preparation for a discussion on the 29th of January and I am also reading Arthur Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha. I do not know why i am reading the latter yet asides that it came recommended, plus I think I need some dosage of Non-African writings.

So welcome all, to the rebirth of my random writing and reading. I hope we have a wonderful experience doing this together.