First Impression Friday will be a meme where you talk about a book that you JUST STARTED! Maybe you’re only a chapter or two in, maybe a little farther. Based on this sampling of your current read, give a few impressions and predict what you’ll think by the end.
On the outskirts of Umuahia, Nigera, a young poultry farmer named Chinonso sees a woman about to jump from a highway bridge. Horrified by her recklessness, Chinonso joins her on the roadside and hurls two of his prized chickens into the water below to demonstrate the severity of such a fall. The woman, Ndali, is stopped in her tracks.
Bonded by this night on the bridge, Chinonso and Ndali fall in love and begin to imagine a life together. When Ndali’s wealthy family objects to the union because Chinonso is uneducated, he sells most of his possessions to attend a college in Cyprus. But when he arrives, he discovers that there is no place at the school for him: he has been utterly duped by the young Nigerian who made the arrangements. Penniless, homeless, and furious at a world that continues to relegate him to the sidelines, Chinonso gets further away from his dream, from Ndali, and from the farm he called home.
And I am back with yet another First Impression Friday update! For this week’s First Impression Friday post, I’ll be previewing my current read, Nigerian author, Chigozie Obioma’s most recent work, An Orchestra of Minorities.
I have never heard of Obioma before nor have I encountered any of his works. What aroused my curiosity was the book’s 2019 Man Booker Prize shortlisting. The moment I saw it in the list, my interest was immediately piqued and I knew I just had to read it. Thankfully, before 2019 ended, I was able to purchase a copy of the book and is now my transitional book for my February 2020 African Literature month.
On to the book. The story is related through the point of view of the main character’s chi, an inner force that is often synonymous with Chinese philosophy. Whilst the Chinese chi pertains to life energy, the African chi, as told through this novel, has a more pronounced presence, it has its own thoughts and wisdom. What both chis is lacking is a physical manifestation.
As the story was told through the point of view of a chi, of an inner being, the story is rendered an intimate quality which I truly like. It has the intersection of the realistic, the fantastic and the surrealistic that . There are several philosophical touchstones as well that enrich the story.
From what I have read so far, I have surmised that the story has three layers to it – a coming of age story, a love story, and a philosophical story. The romance angle is a little underwhelming but it is offset by the philosophical perspectives by the chi-cum-narrator. There are times, however, that his voice gets overwhelming it stymies the voice of the main characters.
It is also interesting how Chinonso is going to overcome the challenges that are about to come his way. Even without reading the synopsis, it was quite easy predicting how his story is going to progress. At least to some extent. I am just now interested how it is going to unravel and how it will impact his relationship with Ndali. More importantly, I am curious how the chi is going to lace his own story with theirs. There is so much to look forward to and I am giddy in anticipation how everything will pan out. On another note, I am hoping for more cultural touchstones; I find the novel a little lacking in this aspect.
How about you fellow reader, what books are you currently reading? From what you’ve read so far, how do think will the story unfold? I hope you could share your thoughts on the comment box.