A Review of Abubakar A. Ibrahim’s ‘Season of Crimson Blossom’

We find love in strange places. The moral compass of the society tends to make us look behind our backs when rolling on the adventure of love. The spotlight in this novel is on Reza a young thug in his twenties falling strangely in love with a widow old enough to be his mother. The setting is in the puritanical Northern Nigeria, obviously this love will raise eye brows. Abubakar examines the society through the lenses of the characters and setting, he pokes how people live under the influence of approval or certain standards of the society. Hajiya Binta and Reza find themselves in this situation and they are grilled by religion, family and communal influences, and placing all these above their emotions, feeling and preferences holds the high points of the book.
The book is politically charged and it opens up a conversation that delves into seeing the human side of the characters, asides all the violence, religion, politics and societal norms. With subtle humor yet very strong themes this book beams with rays that penetrates how the society works.

This is in part what Abubakar A. Ibrahim sought to explore with his debut novel Season of Crimson Blossom. SCOB lays bare a vivid example of how we live to meet up society and norms. This novel is very contextual and it represents a new voice that is telling ignored stories in a recent and up to date voice that is Familiar.

In this book, the characters pop up and come alive with serious feelings of love, loss, grief loneliness and sex. Yes, sex.

Who puts sex in the same book that has Northern Nigeria and religion in it?Abubakar! He joins a new voice that is emerging in the Nigeria Literature that is telling, re-telling the Northern Nigeria story and breaking stereotypes.

The beauty of this book is in its ability to place contrasts side by side and in an objective manner. It lays bare the characters, leaves them to the mercy of the society while silently questioning the reasons why they cannot choose to live the way they want without the prying eyes of the society and family.  Hajiya Bintu and Reza are both adults, who can have sex, and also be in a relationship, while we see this in post modern view as okay, Abubakar puts a question mark on it with the allegory of the mother and son. Reza sees his mother in Hajiya and Hajiya see her lost son in him, this make it look like incest, he presents a context that alienates the act.

Sexuality is explored in a an unusual manner. Sex is pop culture, which often neglects the aged in the society, as against general belief Hajiya’s sexuality is brought alive, ‘awakened’ of sought, by Reza. Sex often paints as a total masculine affair, that often obscure the female form as a participant rather than an object. Hajiya was an object to her formal husband, she can’t control the act nor play a apart in the act. It was as if her sexuality was dead till Reza made it ‘born again’. Let’s face it, old people too crave sex, just as much as tyoung people do.

The awakening that this theme deploys washes up the sociocultural and religion facbrics of the locale and that of the contextual backdrop of the story. This is the beautiful thing that the contemporary writings of the new generation Nigerian writers are contributing to the literary scene. And in my opinion it is very interesting, because they genrate real time coversations, which in tunrn creates awareness. 

As for style, Abubakar pens like a god, he holds his character and puts life into them with vivid descriptions that carry the reader along, and make him want to forget he is reading fiction. He writes in such a way that the characters presents the society, and the society contain them. His language is good and strong, he has a special use if language that evokes imagery as tools of expression and communication, this gives the story a proper spine. I give him a plus on this one.

As for me I will give this book a nine. It is an excellent work. Well worked and written. Season of Crimson Blossoms was shortlisted in September 2016 for the NLNG Nigeria Prize for Literature and it was announced winner in October 2016. Find it people and read it.

You can oder for it on Amazon. And if you are in Nigeria, check out Amab BooksRoving Heights and Bookville or any choice bookshops near you.

Book Review : Julius Bokoru’s ‘The Angel That Was Always There’

Memory is powerful; it is a very heavy burden that is not so easy to put down. Thanks to Literature, despite the painful remembrance, and occurrences that cloud Julius Bokoru’s mind, he was able to carefully paint a story of himself, his village and growing up, his losses and how he seeks identity even in the midst of family members, all these are featured in his faction novel ‘The Angel That Was Always There’.

The book reads like a bedtime story, it carries along the reader in an unwavering manner that completely wraps up in undivided attention. This book purges pity and mild feelings among others for the protagonist of the book Julius. And for people who grew up, lived or still live in Port Harcourt and Bayelsa State of Nigeria, the book is civil history at good notch, they should read it.

Love triangle between a fierce village belle Hetty, the author’s mother, and Trust Bokoru and Jonah Donghahbeyi, Trust’s distant cousin. Hetty loves Trust, ends up with Jonah and his American charisma, but gets pregnant for Trust and Julius was born. With this plot, Julius narrates how his sets forth to find his father and gain acceptance among his half siblings, and the most sweet rendition of how he loves his mother and how her love for him is like that of an angel that watches over one. The sad and pity feeling sets in when Julius lost his mother and his quest for his father became more of a necessity than just familiarization.

This book paints romance in its local flavour, no hidden shadows. It employs journals as a means of memory and poetry as a tool of love. And I must say the book is bearing an Ijaw placard and it is completely Nigerian.

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.