Book Review- Chanwanwa

It’s another exciting week to grill and read. How have you fared with your reading so far? How many books have you read? There are only about fifteen weeks left in 2020. So, if you keep up with our weekly book review, and read the books we recommend, you can still read about fifteen books before the year 2020 runs out.

Let’s start now.

This week, on our grill, is Chanwanwa by Peculiar Oluwademilade Aruleba.

Chanwanwa presents the story of a peaceful city Gath, troubled by an unknown killer. A city that witnessed not one but nine deaths, all in mysterious circumstances. But the death of a young pregnant woman throws the entire city into commotion and the police set out to find the suspect.

The writer weaves her story around three superstitious believes common in many cultures, especially in Africa.

  • A dead cat.
  • Hitting one’s leg against a stone.
  • Waking up to a bed soaked in sweat.

All three experiences are considered by some as a bad omen. So, imagine how horrifying it is for one person to witness all three in one night.

Think about it! Does the mere fact that something bad happens after such dreams lend credence to the belief that they are real? Well, there are conflicting views and beliefs.

This thought-provoking introduction in the very first chapter of the book created an atmosphere of thrill and curiosity.

Often times, it’s as Aruleba puts it, through one of her characters, “Chanwanwa, you choose to believe what your villagers constantly said to you”… whatever our mind feeds on is what we become…”

So, the question is what your beliefs are?

Language, Settings and Style.

Aruleba created in her readers a feeling of familiarity with and helped them connect with the characters in an emotional way while reflecting the pain of losing loved ones in death. She uses short touching phrases and sentences that reflect how hard it is to cope with the death of a loved one, “mourning a loved one is not easy” and the stage of denial. “She can’t be dead.” “The petite woman wailing uncontrollably”. “Kathy observed her, her own tears blurring her vision.”

She explored themes such as depression, love, infidelity and its consequences, friendship, marriage, the pain of losing loved ones in death. Still, She kept in focus the main gist of her story- finding the killer.

The writer used suspense to hold down her reader’s attention to the end. And even then, she never revealed details of why the killer did what they did. Instead, she has chosen to share those details in a sequel to this book to be released sometime in 2021. So, if you’re looking to read an investigative story, with lots of tension and drama, then, by all means, read Chanwanwa. Aruleba carries on the suspense till the end without giving off details that would reveal the motive behind why the killer eliminated her victims in such a horrific manner.

But… We thought the author should have defined her setting and stayed focused. She started out with what seemed like an African setting, only to switch unceremoniously to the western world. We were not quite sure what culture, custom or people she was trying to depict. It left the read somewhat confusing. Africa has a lot of untold stories, our goal as Nigerian writers should be to promote African tales.

We score this book three and a half stars.

And if this book were a song, it would be Flavour’s Iwe, Tribute to Mc Loph. For the pain of losing loved ones in death can really be traumatic. (You, however, may need a translator if you’re not Igbo.) 

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September 16, 2020

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