This is the story of a collection of different characters; Ugwu from a small village who becomes a Houseboy to Odenigbo, a university professor. His lover Olanna. Her twin sister Kainene. Kainene’s English lover Richard. The setting, Nigeria in the 1960’s, is one I know pretty much nothing about. And I know even less about the Republic of Biafra. But it isn’t just a political or historical novel. It is really all about the people.
This is a really great book. Its so well written, in a way though that’s a problem, because you just keep on reading. Too fast to take everything in at times. And this covers a lot of terrible things. War, murder, rape, starvation, you name it here it is. And yet so so readable.
I guess that is why has won awards and got such great reviews.
The characters are all so well drawn, each is an individual, you don’t have to worry about any cardboard cut outs here. I think my favourite was probably Kainene. The “ugly” twin of the two sisters, in her sister’s shadow. Putting up such a front but so full of doubt underneath it. Olanna too is a great character, at the start she is almost a weak character, dependent on the approval of others. Leaning on others and their strength. But by the end she has gone through so much, she had to grow or shrivel up and die.
Go read it.