Book Review- Èfó Rírò And Other Stories

When you look in the mirror, do you like what you see? Well, maybe you do, or maybe you don’t. Are you ready to make the changes that you should?

This week on our grill we unravel the intricacies behind a book of stories that mirror our everyday lives. The book contains touching stories that blend reality, humour and imagination, reflecting colours and flavours that will leave you awed and inspired.

We present Èfó Rírò by Iquo DianaAbasi.

The pictures on the book cover reflect some of the stories. Take a closer look. Do you remember the different stories from the pictures on the cover?

Themes covered

The stories here, cover varied social themes including spousal abuse, religious dogma, love, bravery, betrayal and vengeance. It speaks of the resilience of the everyday Nigerian who in spite of the many challenges in life, refuse to give up on their dreams. The pain, hopes, disappointments, aspirations, joys, and battles sometimes won.

Language, Settings and Style

The collection is set primarily within Nigeria. The stories are written in simple clear English language, blended perfectly with some pidgin English and a stylish garnish of both Yoruba and Efik words. Written so as to motivate to action, instead of just reading.

The style of writing clearly seen in the author’s choice of words, sentence structure and figurative language worked together beautifully to drive home the lessons behind each story and spur her readers to action.

Take for example the following expressions: “As I washed my face, I remembered the matriculation exams, which were to hold in three weeks. I realised that only one person could decide whether to park the vehicle of my life on my fathers’ garage or back up and drive steadily into a better neighbourhood. Only one person- Me.”

“I heard the scuttle of rats in the gutter beside my feet, and I threw a hasty look over my shoulder. Further on, I heard water escape in intermittent trickles from pipes clipped to the gutter walls; overhead, I heard the hoot of a bird and felt myself break out in goose bumps.”

These expressions added to the beauty of the stories presented.

“I realised that only one person could decide whether to park the vehicle of my life on my father’s garage or back back up and drive steadily into a better neighbourhood. Only one person- Me.”

What worked: Each of the 19 stories was told in a different voice allowing either a self-narrator or an outsider relate the story. Much like a seasoned cook will ensure that the pots are washed after each meal is prepared before embarking on another cooking experience not minding that it’s still soup. The writer, presented the stories on a fresh, clean, and sometimes serious note.

We certainly had our favourites: Èfó Rírò because of the humour and descriptive benevolence of the character, the eloquent pidgin English from start to finish and the shocking reality as it dawned on the driver after enjoying a sumptuous meal of Èfó Rírò at Chop and Quench Buka, that he had inadvertently handed his ‘Madam’s car keys to a car thief. We thought it was an exquisite start.

What didn’t work: We thought Kissed by the Tarmac was rather long and windy, with too many details that didn’t quite have any connect with the main gist of the story. Even the title wasn’t exactly catchy.

And if this book were a song, it would be If You Ask Me by Omawumi. Truly some of the stories may sound serious, but they are a reality in many villages and cities in Nigeria as Iquo vividly portrayed.

We score this book four stars.

We declare it delicious like a well-prepared pot of Èfó Rírò. It is no coincidence that it gets its name from the popular Yoruba delicacy.

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September 9, 2020

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