Every body cannot read books, for reasons varying from the valid and reasonable, to ruses vacuous and regrettable. We are more on-the-go these days and we are grateful for how ebooks fill in for physical copies. But who could walk into a bookstore and not be awed by that ambience and energy of so many thoughts and ideas compressed into previously blank pages?
This week, the Nigeria International Book Fair 2018 held at the University of Lagos, was one of such opportunities to stand amidst a sea of books, and dare I say it was better than the last edition. From a rough count, there may not have been more persons but – boy! – there were, for me, way more interesting titles to crave.
Captured on shelves and sorted by categories, here’s your own feast of the titles and paperbacks that made me wish I stumbled on a blank cheque backed with assurance:
Tomi Adeyemi: Children of Blood and Bone
You’re in communion with high powers when the first book you see at a fair is literally the one being talked about on your book club WhatsApp group. It is to Tomi Adeyemi’s credit that her well received 2018 afrofuturistic fantasy lay above a collection of Buchi Emecheta’s at one of the most visited stands. Among the most expensive fiction books on show, Children of Blood and Bone was available in another version for a slightly reduced price. In whatever appearance, those who have communed with its characters say the book is pure art in words.
It’s first chapter begins with: “Pick me”. Many did.
There will be no replacement for Buchi Emecheta in Nigerian literature. Established writers acknowledge this, new writers need to read her. It evoked a sense of the loss of a mine to see the display of her several books; a lying in state of sorts. But if station and imagination are linked, those who picked up her work(s) will have some reawakening. If they had forgotten some salient matters of our difficult society, Emecheta’s evergreen titles will make them remember.
CAREER AND MOTIVATION
This is almost a Grant-Gladwell department these days and the stands reflected it much, with good numbers of Sheryl Sandberg and Jen Sincero’s “badass” titles. Though unfamiliar, I found the books in the other picture interesting to look out for sometime.
The House That Jack Ma Built is a compulsory read in order to comprehend the Alibaba machine, a friend often says to me. But is Ma really interesting, given the support from the Chinese state? And is Emmanuel Macron really that exceptional now the novelty of his election has worn to reveal his imperialist longings? Ernest Emenyonu’s companion to reading Chimamanda Adichie leaned next to another companion of sorts edited by the Professor of African history, Moses Ochonu, as if both were in conversation about how to change the continent from across the Atlantic. Add to both Okey Ndibe’s memoir (captured on another stand) about Americans and it comes full circle. And the celebrated Awoist, Ayo Adebanjo, who turned 90 in March, doesn’t look a day over 60 on the cover of his book published this year.
STATE AND SOCIETY
Matthew Hassan Kukah wrote Witness to Justice so Nigeria can learn that truth and reconciliation is not beans; it is better to avoid conflicts. On the basis of recurrences, it doesn’t seem many read it. If we’re remorseful, we should have to read Akiga Sai for a broader understanding of current problems in Benue. And sandwiched between a former president and a prolific academic is an academic who wants to be president. Will he be read to form a basis for judging what he says?
GOVERNMENT AND ADMINISTRATION
These are not 2018 titles, but they are always irresistible to look at. Explaining his motivation for writing books on administration, Dr Tunji Olaopa, the Executive Director of the Ibadan School of Government and Public Policy, says he is not the kind of civil servant “who must only be seen but never heard”. It will be to the radical betterment of the Nigerian Civil Service that he be heard and applied. Then, these red and blue volumes treating politics and government are worth checking out for possible areas of local appropriation.
Chinua Achebe and Ngugi wa thiong’o have influenced Africa beyond literature and are easily two of the continents most recognised intellectuals. Unfortunately, things still fall apart and the academia in Africa have had insufficient joy directly impacting policymakers, a menace CODESRIA hoped to begin to correct with the publication of a synergy-building guide in 2009. A must-have for solution seekers on both sides of the town and gown.
Two books that will change how you view the world, critics and readers say. Neither comes cheap but those homo sapiens who change tomorrow do not either.
The man is a category, without question. His latest intervention was on what he said he would do to his Green Card should America elect Donald Trump. I was pointed to this as one of the most in-demand books from the publisher.
SOLD OUT: NGOZI OKONJO IWEALA’S FIGHTING CORRUPTION
When Donald Duke showed frustration on Twitter with Mrs Okonjo-Iweala publishing what he thought were private discussions, it was the sign that the former Minister of Finance had done a job worth the very high price being demanded for her book. And there has been demand; this vendor sold out its first batch of 50 copies in a week.
There will be those books at fairs which you see, immediately bring out cash and card to pay for but learn are only on display not for sale (for some reason). Last year, it was Okey Ndibe’s foreign god’s inc. This time, it’s Madsen Pirie’s How To Win Every Argument. Where can this be found people?
Nina Iphechukwude Anyianuka’s Disowned explores the subject of abuse through fiction; Kingsley Moghalu’s Build, Innovate and Grow is his presidential campaign book outlining his vision. Richard Mofe-Damijo says he cried after reading Ms Anyianuka’s collection of stories; Mr Moghalu is banking on readers getting to see how he wants to Make Nigerians Smile for Once.
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Walking through book stands at a fair is strange for the frequent quick stops you have to make to bring closure to spells of suspense that result from turning to books left and right. Your neck will hurt from often staring behind, but the heart ultimately delights. Just ask these:
Words & Photography By Alexander O. Onukwue | Follow @inquizimedia on Facebook and Twitter