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Posts Tagged ‘The Lagos Review’

MOYMichael Afenfia’s The Mechanics of Yenagoa is an interesting feel-good read that grips the reader from the first page and keeps you flipping the pages like a compulsive disorder, as the narrator leads you deeper into the funny, disjointed and often troubled lives of the different characters it portrays.

From the title, one is wont to assume that it tells the story of different mechanics in Yenagoa, the capital of Bayelsa state. Not quite so. Instead, it is the story of one mechanic, his apprentices and how the choices they make impact on or is influenced by, the cocktail of characters in their lives.

At the center of it all is Ebinimi (who also goes by Brother Jacob), from whose narrative voice the story is told. He is a university graduate who opted to be a mechanic and runs his auto repair shop on Kalakala street. The irony of a graduate as a mechanic is made even more remarkable by the fact that he is also pursuing a second degree, an MBA, at the state university. With that somewhat unusual profile, he presents an image of one who had it all together but that seems to be all that is good about his life. The rest of it is a web of emotional entanglements, perpetual trouble baiting, fights, ambition, betrayals and their unintended consequences.

When we meet Ebinimi he also introduces us to his allegedly pregnant on-and-off girlfriend, Blessing (who will prove to be his undoing in many ways), his sister Ebiakpo whose marriage is perched on the precipice, his three apprentices, Biodun, Broderick and Saka who seem to have no cares in the world and Reverend Ebizimor, who is that behind-the-scene character instigating much of the conflict in the book and who smartly exits the scene, like he was never there, just when it is all about to unravel. We see how Ebinimi, in the course of his normal existence is drawn into situations which in his effort to solve, triggers other events that threaten to engulf his entire existence. Indeed, for most of the book, he is basically quenching fires, and sometimes igniting new ones himself but managing somehow to navigate through it all.

At its core though, The Mechanics of Yenagoa tells a much deeper story about the dysfunction of society, the everyday coping mechanisms of ordinary people, the breakdown of marriages and the games people play to get and retain power including the weaponizing of religion and the use of violence as a political tool.

Read the full review here in the Lagos Review

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abpplIt was American singer and songwriter Marilyn Manson who said that music is the strongest form of magic. If magic is the power to enchant, then there is no better word than magic for describing this music inspired collection of short stories, A Broken People’s Playlist by Chimeka Garricks

George Saunders, celebrated writer of short stories and essays in one of his popular quotes opined that when you read a short story, you come out a little more aware and a little more in love with the world around you. A Broken People’s Playlist does absolutely that.

This collection of twelve stories about life, death and everything in-between is a delight from cover to cover. One is first dazzled by the cover design, which whets the reader’s appetite and prepares your senses for the music in the pages. As the Igbos say, the eye first eats before the mouth does.

Some will argue though that a book should not be judged by its cover. Quite true but we are saved that argument in this instance. What is served in the following 248 pages, matches the artistry of the cover and combines to deliver a work of art that tickles your ribs as much as it does your tear ducts, making you question the essence of life and at the same time reinforcing your faith in it all the while, delighting you with all the rhyme and rhythm that the African storytelling tradition embodies.

Garricks does something unusual in this book. It is not very often that fiction writers avail their readers of their thought process, inspiration and influences within the covers of their work. That is the stuff for interviews, closer engagements during book readings and perhaps their memoir. But Garricks is a very generous writer. Perhaps to set the ground rules for any future interrogation of his work or as an appreciation to the composers who made the ‘track list’ of this album possible, he added a four page ‘Author Notes’ at the end of his collection

Read the full review here in the Lagos Review

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