A Year in Reading: Chigozie Obioma

December 1, 2016 | 3 books mentioned 2 min read

coverMischling by Affinity Konar is a lyrical book written with much gusto and power. The story of twin sisters trying to survive the Nazis is at once powerful and harrowing. It has the ambition that great novels, and those that last, carry. The prose is composed and has the energy of a restless dancer, one whom you can not tire from watching even late into the night. And I am sure that it will endure. Although I read and blurbed an advance copy, this is a novel I will return to in the nearest future.

The first J.M. Coetzee I read was Disgrace. I picked it up by chance, as I have been hard at work on my second novel, which has in its heart the theme of disgrace. Coetzee’s novel has a way of turning the reader into an unacknowledged participant in the disruption of a life. David Lurie, an intellectual, one who works a job similar to mine, will go on to be “disgraced.” Coetzee does not write what you might call abundant prose, but when the authorial gaze becomes razor-sharp, the result is often sensational. And this novel is a testament to the power of his writing.

coverI enjoyed Odafe Atogun’s Taduno’s Song, a novel about Nigeria’s tumultuous years under authoritarian rule. The prose is simplistic, and even sometimes imprecise. This would have marred a lot of novels, but because of the plot of this novel — the allusiveness of a musician who has returned from a long exile to his homeland where no one remembers him — the prose works. When the story veers towards its end, we are awakened to the power and strength of this debut novel, and everything feels like a kind of trick — a trick on the soul of the reader. The novel comes to the U.S. next year, and I hope people will give it a chance.

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is a contributing editor at The Millions. He was born in Nigeria. His debut novel, The Fishermen (Little, Brown), was published in 2015 and is being translated into 27 languages. The novel was the winner of the inaugural FT/Oppenheimer Award for Fiction, the NAACP Image Awards for Debut Literary Work, the LA Times Art Seidenbaum award for first fiction among others, and was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize 2015 and the Guardian First Book Award. He lives in Lincoln, Nebraska where he is a professor of Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

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