9/13/2013

Let Chimamanda rest, there’s Chibundu


Blasphemy is comparing the two. Fairness is contrasting the two.

For starters, Chimamanda has three books to her name. The latest being Americanah. Two of them, one of which has been made into a movie, I know are part of the syllabus in the University of Malawi. And, one can guess, the third one will soon make it there as well. Actually, for an avid reader to not have read Chimamanda seems like an offence. You actually do not have any right to call yourself a reader – let alone of African literature.

Men have even moved from loving Chimamanda, the author and her works, to loving the person they might never meet in flesh.

Add to that, I just got to learn of her few controversies – or rather reservations – on the Caine Prize for African literature not long ago. So, she is an entity.

Chimamanda is an authority in contemporary African literature. I do not even need to mention all her names. Once I write Chimamanda, it is clear that it is the same author of Half of a Yellow Sun that I am writing about.

Her name, to some, are like Obama and Mandela – you do not ask which one!

For Chibundu Onuzo, well, one has to start with the introductions. The very basics. Nigerian names can be guessed by their syllables of course and the question of her nationality is put to a rest here. Chibundu Onuzo is Nigerian.

But, that name is not of a football player otherwise it could have been fairly known. It is not even of a movie personality in their Nollywood for it could have as well not raised many questions.

It is of a writer. The author of my modern day Scarlet Song: The Spider King’s Daughter.

I have read her book once. I want to re-read it and were it not for the fact that I have recommended it to a various number of people who have ended up borrowing from me then you can be sure that by now I could have tucked myself in some silent place reading that book instead of writing about her book here. 

Sadly, it is in the hands of a borrower for no shop here (in Malawi) has that book on offer. It even had to take me some divine intervention for me to know of the existence of the book and some brotherly love for me to finally have the book.

Chibundu Onuzo is a good writer. Good when regarded in her own regard. She is not a good writer because she had her first novel published at 21, no! She is good simply because she is good. 

It is her masterly of language that makes her good. It is her ability to create images where none are existent that make her good. It is her witty in creating a motion picture before you with words that places her in a league of adorable and skilful writers.

It is her ability to write a romance perfected by imprints of romance and yet have it remain distinct from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet that makes her good.

Yes, the print space might have been dominated by Chimamanda but for all African book lovers, or just plain book lovers, Chibundu Onuzo is another writer you ought to try and find the new voice coming from Africa. Of course, it is a voice that ends with a frustration in its writing yet a worthwhile voice still.

I tried her once and I do not regret it. You, too, must try her.