I recently got paid and so I decided that the right thing to do was to walk into the Nu Metro Media Store at Ceddi Plaza, Central Area Abuja for book and window shopping (the place reeks of affluence; it made me want to grab a gun and shout “stick em up!”). I finally settled with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “Purple Hibiscus”, her other book “Half of a yellow Sun” and Sefi Atta’s “Everything Good Will Come”. The 3 books have been ringing in my ears for months now as I‘ve been seeing the buzz about them everywhere I go in the Naija blogosphere.
I’ve just got through Purple Hibiscus and if you asked my opinion I’d say it’s a good book, but I’m somehow not so awed by it. You see to me a great work of art is art that knocks me off my feet that upon consumption I’m like “this is genius! How did the artist manage to do this?” But in the case of Purple Hibiscus I could relate with pretty much everything the author put into her book and I understand where she was coming from characterization wise, that in a good month with the right inspiration and guidance I could well have written the book myself.
She’s a simple crafting-superb product kind of writer, such that I didn’t have much cause to consult a dictionary while reading like I would have bothered with other novels. And she was very minimally descriptive in her writing; she just wanted the story to flow. The book is not exactly autobiographical but reading it I felt as one with all of her experiences she put into writing the book. Detailedly:
1) Via many years of being a read and write freak online I understood the consciousness she put into the characters Obiora, Aunt Ifeoma and Amaka (Although she made Obiora wise above his age. I think it’s very much the exception for kids to be capable of that level of consciousness at that age. Being highly pro-Nigeria I could relate with Amaka’s alternative musical taste and philosophical stance).
2) Having frequently visited my village over the past few years I was happy with her apt depiction of village life in Igbo land and I was impressed by her great love for her Igbo roots.
3) Having had my university education in Nsukka between the year 2000 and 2006 I very much felt at home with the novel.
4) Having witnessed military rule in my awakening teenage years I could very much identify with the plot of the novel.
5) I went to a seminary secondary school but now considering myself a very liberal Catholic I could very much identify with her religious views as painted in the novel.
6) In life I’ve known what it means to be rich, middle income earning and poor, so I understood the extremes painted in the novel.
I’m now off to read “Half of a yellow Sun” and “Everything Good Will Come”. I hope they’ll sooth away my annoyance with Chimamanda for allowing Kambili's mum poison her dad.