Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Book Review - 26A

So in my new love for African Themed books, I snagged up this book from my local Oxfam shop. The book being a winner of a prestigious award made it all the more attractive.
Judges can’t be wrong eh?

Plot: The book focuses on the lives of the Hunters, an inter-racial couple made up of a Nigerian Mom and British Dad and their 5 girls in a London suburb.
There is Ida the Mom who deals with homesickness by having regular but imaginary discussions with her mother in her head. Aubrey, the alcoholic husband whose childhood involved humiliating episodes by a domineering father and doting mother and who had in turn become an abusive father
Of the children, the author focuses on the twins, Georgia and Bessi, exaggerating the different personalities yet emphasizing that intangible but unique connection that is said to exist between twins. And when tragedy in the form of sexual assault happens in the life of one, the confusion and festering impact it has on their mental and sexual development.

From growing up in the family house in Neasden, to a 3 year adventure living in Lagos, From flapjack dreams to boyfriends, Childhood to adulthood, the writers makes us passive observers in the dynamics of this largely dysfunctional family alternating between minutiae details to broad sweeps.

Wow – Diana’s distinctive writing style - alternatively descriptive and poetic - which imbued otherwise brilliance to this laidback story.
Not so wow – I must confess, I wasn’t enamored by the plot. It was a like traveling on the district line tube train (wink wink – slow and tortuous). 
The interracial dynamics which I had looked forward to were lost on me.
Ida was not a Nigerian woman I recognized. An Edo woman who called her mother Nne-nne and father Baba?? did not sound right (I've been told that the dialect of the Igbanke speaking part of Edo is borrowed from Igbo language). 
A Nigerian woman without friends (except her imaginary mother), A Nigerian mother who lived on the fringes of the lives of her 5 daughters. A Nigerian woman whose only flash of culture was adding cayenne spice to Yorkshire pudding. haba!!
Even the description of Lagos where they temporarily lived bore little semblance to the Lagos I know.
I came to the conclusion that either the author’s geography hadn’t been comprehensive or she'd written the book through a white prism.

Despite the tragic events that run through its thread (abuse, depression, suicide) at the end, it hinted at happy beginnings for the Hunter family and i was comforted.  

Do tell me what you thought of 26A....


  1. I haven't read it, but I've seen it around quite a bit. I hope in a year or two you'll be commenting on my first novel :)

  2. It was her first book I tried to read, I couldn't finish. I found the writing, and plot just too plodding. And the characters too made-up.

  3. Interesting plot.
    I'm planning on buying it soon :)

  4. I guess I have to look for this and read to give a review. I love your review of the book by the way.

  5. No Offense but sounds like someone “trying” a bit too hard to write an Nigerian book. Nne-nne and baba? come on!

  6. I love Africa literature, and i'm one person that always tries to finish any book she picks up but this was one of the few times that didn't happen.
    Like Myne said, plodding. Reading was so tedious i had to give up at some point.
    It was like she had the right idea but just couldn't translate it properly. But hey, it's an award winning book, so.....

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