Genre Fiction: Contemporary romance.
Blurb An unemployed man sees a vision of the love he wants to have as he strikes up a conversation with a young lady on a packed molue during a traffic jam.
A child gets drawn into the daily goings-on of her beautiful next-door neighbours.
A woman steps back into her hidden past when she meets her father for the first time and spots a torn photo.
A young man realises that he can’t fine tune his romantic inclinations to suit his heritage.
Naija Love Stories, set against the backdrop of a rich and vibrant Nigerian culture, will take you on a journey through the lives and loves of various characters, all grappling with different concepts of what it means to love, and to be loved. Using her lyrical style punctuated with sharp and witty undertones, Ola Awonubi deftly captures the power, poignancy, mystery, hilarity, longevity, complexity and simplicity of love – some of the many faces of love that any reader, anywhere in the world, will instantly recognise.
Themes Love, Family, Relationships, Racism and Death.
Editing Well edited.
Plot Naija Love Stories is a collection of 12 short stories which are aptly titled. In The Pink House, a young girl got her first glimpse of how love ends. In The Go-Slow Journey, Bayo and Miss Pink suit and sunglasses are “married” by a bus conductor who gives both of them change for their transport fare as a unit instead of individually. After the death of her mother, Enitan came to pay her last respect as The Guest. In The Taste of Home, Oyedeji learned a hard lesson that maybe he should have stuck with someone from home. In A Very Serious Matter, a mother watched her own relationship die while she remains strong for her daughter. In Green Eyes and an Old Photo, a woman experienced love through the eyes of an old man while connecting with her fatherland. In Tanimola, Mrs D, the wife of a British colonial administrator is writing a story about the custom and practices of the Yoruba land and she’s got a good story to tell. In Meeting the Family, Bola learns about her fiancé, Tunde’s past. In With Love from Tuscany Ese finds out that family won’t always support you even after you have settled them. In A Past and Present Future a couple stands at opposing ends on how to progress individually. In The Message, a perfect alibi is destroyed. In Moving Forward, a couple’s regret got a turn around when they watched their offspring move.
What worked? This is the second book written by Ola we have reviewed on this blog. Read our review of her book, Love Me Unconditionally here.
Written in both third person and first person narrative, this is a well-composed collection of twelve short love stories.
The first thing which strikes you as you read this collection of short stories is that this isn’t your usual run-of-the-mill contemporary romance book. In fact, you may struggle to find the romance in the stories but this should not deter you from reading on as Ola weaves believable tales around family, relationships and societal interactions. Perhaps, Ola is trying to tell us that love isn’t always as simple as what you find in fairy tales. The book delves into the complexities of love and relationships of everyday people.
The stories are short but they hold depth, context and reality. Love and its antithesis is the major theme of this book, not just romantic love, sometimes, it’s familial. Each story depicts the average Nigerian reality both home and abroad. There’s nothing toe curling or heart racing about any of these stories. They are sometimes a sober or sombre reflection of our reality. A few of the stories end on the premise of love but in a larger scope it’s just what it is, we are all searching for love in whatever form and we can find or understand it within the context of our reality.
Mo I particularly love Green Eyes and an Old Photo, I love the story telling and the story itself. I enjoyed reading this book, Ola writes in a way that grabs your attention and makes you pay attention to every single detail. With Love from Tuscany was heartfelt and reminds me of one of the stories in Fresh Air and other Stories by Reward Nsirim. Unfortunately, it didn’t have the kind of ending that one has. In a way, you are happy with the ending, but mostly, you’re left with a heavy heart.
Lady B My favourite stories were; The Pink House, The Go-slow Journey, A Very Serious Matter and Green Eyes and an Old Photo. I liked the way these stories were written, they were relatable and the descriptions in the story-telling made the stories come alive.
As I read the fourth story, A Taste of Love, about a Nigerian man who was beaten up by yobs in London because of his relationship with a white woman, this Nigerian saying came to mind; looking for something in Sokoto which is in your sokoto.[i]
What I like best about this collection of short stories is the unpredictability.
What didn’t work?
Mo Meeting the Family was my least favourite, it’s also the least captivating. I thought it was bland.
Ola, what is bean cake and who uses it in a sentence and why does a seemingly regular person use it in a sentence? Because, if you explain Agbada and Ogi (in the same story), Akara shouldn’t be hard either.
Lady B There were a few instances where the dialogue was not real. In the second story, The Go-Slow Journey, the word “freeloader” is not something a Lagos Danfo driver is likely to say. And in the fourth story, The Taste of Home, one of the characters was talking to a Nigerian but explaining the location of a state in Nigeria. This is unlikely to happen in a real conversation.
Page numbers 134.
Publisher Conscious Dreams Publishing.
Damage N1,500 on Okadabooks.
Many thanks to Ola for sending us a copy of her book for an honest review.
Which kind of love stories do you like? The realistic types or the fairy tale types? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.
[i] It means you may be looking in a far place for something which is actually within your reach.