Book of the Month: Violence

Believe it or not, this is the book of September not October. I don't know why October came two days early*. She be like that sometimes. Okay so, Violence may sound like it's a book about actual physical violence, terror etc. in the literal sense. No. It's not about a war or revolution or murder. No, it wasn't literally about violence. Rather the violence here was a symbolism for violence of the mind, of dignity. Acts of violence are committed when a person is denied the opportunity of being educated, getting a job, feeding himself, getting medical attention etc.

There are kinds of political and economic systems that brutalize a man. It was these types of brutalization we saw in Idemudia, the protagonist of the novel, who suffered in the despicable hands of poverty. The book delved into the lives of Idemudia and his wife, their lack and nothingness against the lives of Obofun and his wife, Queen who, thanks to greed and corruption lived in opulence, plenty and wealth.

More than just a story however, the book touched on systemic poverty and the nuances of a failed system in Nigeria of the 70s. A particularly poignant part was at the beginning of the book when Idemudia fell terribly ill, and getting him good healthcare was a disaster. Just as poignant and deeply mortifying were the things both Idemudia and his wife had to do to put food on the table.

It also focuses generally on our institutions and how poorly they serve the citizens. Police is not really your friend is what we discover when mama Jimoh's husband is arrested. Our justice system is deeply flawed. Health care is a travesty. Sigh. The issues are too numerous to count.

It's as much a political book as it is a fiction. What saddens me is that some of the issues highlighted still persist in today's Nigeria. Basic healthcare is still inaccessible, abject poverty still has its grip on many people, and exploitation of the government by it employees is still very commonplace. A select few at the stop still have the monopoly of the system, and there is a vested interest in seeing the country fail in terms of infrastructure and basic services.

So yes the book tells a good story but it also mirrors Nigeria.

Now while I like that the book highlighted very important themes, I don't particularly care for the style of story telling. It put a lot of burden on the actors to tell us what was going on. A lot of time, there were long, endless quotes from characters, which can be fine. Except how do uneducated people speak such eloquent English? I mean, barely educated Adisa had a full grasp of English. Also, perhaps I missed it, but where the hell was this book set?! How do you write an entire fiction without mentioning the setting? At first I thought it was a fictional South Western city in Nigeria; a place that mirrors Ibadan for instance. But then again it would sound very South South-ish.

Anyway, good stuff or good enough to be book of the month!

See you next time ;-)


*Life just happened (and it's still happening) very fast. I barely found the time to read for leisure, let alone write about it. I will try to do better by better managing my time. I hope.

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