As an avid lover (but a very modest drinker) of beer, literature that explores the history of the special liquid and its transformation down the ages has always fascinated me. Beernomics is one of the more recent entries into that genre and a decent addition too. Beernomics charts an insightful (albeit dry) journey of the history of beer production from ancient Egypt through the monasteries of Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries to the modern-day craft breweries in America and Europe.
The good thing about randomizing my TBR list process ahead of every new year is that it gives every book on my shelf a fair chance of being chosen. I For Don Bow But I Too Dey Press Phone is a good example of that process. I had been down with malaria (which turned out to be COVID-19 days later) weeks back and felt too sick for the book I had begun days earlier (a book on the economic history of beers). I inserted a bookmarker into it, tossed it aside and looked intently at my TBR list picture for a more fun read. I settled for Hymar David’s memoir and I could not have made a better choice.
For my first read of 2021, I grabbed my copy of A Broken People’s Playlist out of the 2021 TBR list. It took all the restraint I could muster not to break my self-imposed rules and read it last year when it was published. A Broken People’s Playlist is Chimeka Garrick’s second book; his first collection of short stories after his impressive debut novel – Tomorrow Died Yesterday. I am very biased about Chimeka Garricks’ works for the single reason that we share a first love – the southern Nigerian city of Port Harcourt.
Happy New Year to all!!
A new year means a new reading list. With a bit of deliberate tendency, I have randomly chosen these books for 2021. It is always a task filled with lots of anguish and guilt. There are always more books that I really want to read that are left out than those chosen. It feels like going on a road trip but having to leave behind some of your family members because the car is not big enough to take everyone. Let the journey begin and let us see if we will be able to come back to fetch a few more of the family members left behind.
Let the journey begin and happy reading!!
The most broken record you could here today is that 2020 has been a very awful year. It has been an utterly awful year on all counts. However, like Victor Hugo rightly said, “It is from books that wise men derive consolation in the troubles of life.”
For some unclear reasons (basically laziness and procrastination), I have not filled an entry here in a long one. I have not stopped adding to the library but I have just stopped updating these pages. I just found this photo in the gallery of my phone and decided to use it here before deleting it. This was taken about two months ago after I unpacked the parcel from the delivery man.
Fred Khumalo is a proven storyteller with a couple of award-winning works of fiction. I read one of them earlier this year. However, it took the nostalgic memory of rereading this memoir for me to remember that I first encountered Fred Khumalo the journalist before Fred Khumalo the novelist. My introduction to his career was during his stint at ThisDay newspaper,
Even before 1849 when the elegant William Thompson stopped strangers on the street and asked them if they had enough confidence in him to trust him with their watches till the next day, deceit has been a part of human relationships from little tricks to elaborate scams. Are we all gullible to confidence games? Are some of us immune to cons? Are their traits common to all grifters? These are the questions that The Confidence Game sets out to answer and explore.
While I was halfway through Chimeka Gariccks’ debut novel – Tomorrow Died Yesterday, the 25th anniversary of the execution of Kenule Saro-Wiwa (and eight others) by the Nigerian state was marked.
I read this book for the first time in 2011. I found it bland enough not to remember what it was about. Fast forward to 2020; I finished my 2020 TBR list and decided to pick a short set of books I had read in the past and always wanted to reread. This is not an opportunity that comes often so I grabbed it with both hands. I could only pick six books (as I did not want to have an unmet target by the end of the year). A Life Elsewhere was one of the random six reread picks.
A Life Elsewhere is a collection of seventeen eclectic short stories. The fundamental theme that runs across all seventeen of them is dislocation. The dislocation caused by migration as seen in Monday Morning – a story about a family that had moved from a war-torn to a safer country. However, life is dislocated at every turn for every member of the family. From the father who has to settle for way less in the form of a job where his dignity is attacked to his wife who feels sad at the growing emasculation of her husband by the new social order. In People You Don’t Know, a young man is sent abroad from London to stay with a relative after an unspecified scandal. There he gets employed to cleans the estate pool even as he struggles to fit in and hold down a permanent job while being unable to keep himself away from trouble. In Arithmetic and The Husband Of Your Wife’s Best Friend, the dislocations are mostly around mid-life crises and the regrets that that stage of life brings. In Something In The Water, a Nigerian man returns to his home country with his foreign wife who is coming to the country for the first time. He is distraught with how things have not changed but actually deteriorated while he was away. His wife on the other hand is intrigued by the different lifestyle she sees and is actually adventurous to the point of irritating her husband. In Gifted (which was my favourite story in the collection), a Nigerian housewife who is living with her diplomat husband in Japan is dislocated both in body and soul. The first source of her dislocation is the isolation she feels due to loneliness and being far from her siblings who are back in Nigeria. She is increasingly isolated in a land where she does not seem to fit in. Secondly, her dislocation is caused by a physically and verbally abusive husband. There is a rare of sunshine at the end when successfully runs for safety with her two kids one afternoon while her husband is away at work.
A Life Elsewhere is a decent collection set in diverse locations that paint vivid pictures of dislocated and lonely characters. There is a pessimism that pervades the stories but it is underpinned in reality and mundane every day living.