Welcome to Lagos by Chibundu Onuzo

31525607Title: Welcome to Lagos

Author: Chibundu Onuzo

Pub Date: January 7th, 2017

My Rating: ★★★☆☆

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

Deep in the Niger Delta, officer Chike Ameobi deserts the army and sets out on the road to Lagos. He is soon joined by a wayward private, a naive militant, a vulnerable young woman and a runaway middle-class wife. The shared goals of this unlikely group: freedom and new life.

As they strive to find their places in the city, they become embroiled in a political scandal. Ahmed Bakare, editor of the failing Nigerian Journal, is determined to report the truth. Yet government minister Chief Sandayo will do anything to maintain his position. Trapped between the two, they are forced to make a life-changing decision.

Full of shimmering detail, Welcome to Lagos is a stunning portrayal of an extraordinary city, and of seven lives that intersect in a breathless story of courage and survival.

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Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Title: Born a Crime: A stories from a South African childhood.

Author: Trevor Noah

Pub Date: November 15th, 2016

My Rating: ★★★★★

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Synopis from Goodreads:

The compelling, inspiring, and comically sublime story of one man’s coming-of-age, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed.

Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.

Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother: his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.

The eighteen personal essays collected here are by turns hilarious, dramatic, and deeply affecting. Whether subsisting on caterpillars for dinner during hard times, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping, or just trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Trevor illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and unflinching honesty. His stories weave together to form a moving and searingly funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time, armed only with a keen sense of humor and a mother’s unconventional, unconditional love.

I really like Trevor Noah in The Daily Show. And I really like memoir audiobooks narrated by the author. So this book was just a perfect pick for me. Trevor shares with us an amazing story of childhood so much different than anything I know. He was born in South Africa when interracial relationships were illegal, but his mother was fearless and she wanted a child. She asked her white friend for that child. She was relentless so she got that child. So Trevor was born into a black family, but he was coloured. He wasn’t black and he wasn’t white. And at that time how you looked and what colour your skin was crucial. The whole system was based on that. There were towns where black people lived, where white people lived, coloured, Indian, Asian. How you lived and what you were allowed to do was based on how you were classified racially.

The story of Trevor’s childhood is centred around his mother. She is the true hero of his story and we learn so much about her. Trevor tells us about tough choices she had to make, about her stubbornness and fearlessness. She’s truly amazing women, and it was thought to listen to what happened to her at some time in her life. She’s extremely strong.

You can learn a lot while reading this book. It tells a story of life in the aftermath of apartheid. It shows us how hard it is to judge someone who committed a crime. How unjust world is. But the story also has its light moments. It’s not all serious. Trevor’s mother lessons about women and romance are very good. Stories of Trevor’s romantic endeavours are quite funny, cute and a bit sad.

Swing Time by Zadie Smith

swing-timeTitle: Swing Time

Author: Zadie Smith

Pub Date: November 15th, 2016

My Rating: ★★★☆☆

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Synopis from Goodreads:

An ambitious, exuberant new novel moving from north west London to West Africa, from the multi-award-winning author of White Teeth andOn Beauty.

Two brown girls dream of being dancers – but only one, Tracey, has talent. The other has ideas: about rhythm and time, about black bodies and black music, what constitutes a tribe, or makes a person truly free. It’s a close but complicated childhood friendship that ends abruptly in their early twenties, never to be revisited, but never quite forgotten, either…

Dazzlingly energetic and deeply human, Swing Time is a story about friendship and music and stubborn roots, about how we are shaped by these things and how we can survive them. Moving from North-West London to West Africa, it is an exuberant dance to the music of time.

This is just hard. Zadie Smith is one of my favorite authors. I adore her other works, and when I heard about her new book I was excited. I couldn’t wait to finally read it. And now I read it. And I’m not happy. It wasn’t anything as enjoyable read as her previous books. It was quite frankly boring.

It’s a story of women friendship. There are two story lines that intervene a little bit, the first plot line is the present time when the main character is working for superstar Aimee. The second storyline is her childhood and friendship with Tracey. The main character is quite flat and uninspiring. We learn so much about her life and her history, but still, I’m left with an impression that she is just a mean to tell us a story of Aimee and Tracey. She’s the main character but not the main focus.

I struggled to follow the story u because it was jumping between different times and places constantly. I was getting lost and every time it took me some time to adjust to the new place and time. This was a big issue at the beginning, but later in the book, it was pretty easy – one chapter about Aimee and one chapter about childhood and Tracey.

The most interesting part of the story for me was reading about the superstar that is pouring her wealth to a poor village in Africa. Without thinking about the repercussions of such actions. Just thinking about solving the problems of poverty and education and health care with money, and feeling good about herself. Having a vision and a good noble goal, but not stopping for a while to judge if her actions are truly solving any problems in the village, is she helping or harming them?

Poison City by Paul Crilley

29379042Title: Poison City

Author: Paul Crilley

Pub Date: August 11th, 2016

My Rating: ★★★★☆

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Do  you like books that involve:

  • crime?
  • mystery?
  • fantasy?
  • magic? (+ Harry Potter references in jokes!)
  • vampires, angels, faeries and all the possible fantasy characters out there?
  • talking dogs?
  • bad-ass fighting scenes?
  • sarcastic sidekicks?
  • British characters with undeniably British humor?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the questions (or better- to all of them) you are in luck! Because this book has it all and more! I enjoyed it so much that I don’t know if I’ll be able to write it all down. This book made me stay up late, and I don’t do that much those days.

If there are people out there that answers ‘no’ to all of the questions – I don’t know what I can say to save you. Books with those themes are pretty cool, so reconsider your book preferences, maybe it’s time to read something different?

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Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue

behold the dreamersTitle: Behold the Dreamers

Author: Imbolo Mbue

Pub Date: August 23, 2016

My Rating: ★★★★☆

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Behold the Dreamers perfectly captures the sad truth that so many people need to fly they countries, their homes to find a better life or at least find a chance to get a decent life somewhere else. It also shows wishful naiveté of people believing that in a wealthy country that they know from TV their life is granted to be better. Escaping is just the first step.

I enjoy books with an immigration theme and Behold the Dreamers a great book about immigrants. In the days before the collapse of Lehmann Brothers illegal immigrant from Cameroon – Jende Jonga gets a job as a chauffeur for a Wall Street man Clark Edwards. Jende is fighting cruel American immigration system trying to get a green card; his lawyer advised him to petition for asylum. Jende believes that America is the place for him to become somebody and for his family to have a good life,  surely better than the one they could have in Africa. His wife Neni believes in America even more. Continue reading