BOOK REVIEW | ARROWS OF RAIN
AUTHOR: Okey Ndibe
PUBLISHER: HEINEMANN (African Writers Series)
PAGES: 248 (PAPERBACK)
A young woman runs into sea and drowns. The last man who spoke to her, the curious individual known as Bukuru, is asked to account for the suicide. His shocking revelations land him in court. Alone and undefended, Bukuru has to calculate the cost of silence in the face of stories which must be told.
It has been a long time I read a book from African Writers Series (AWS) so I was glad to get this thrifted copy of Okey Ndibe’s debut novel, Arrows of Rain from a friend.
The systematic unfolding of events made this book a page-turner. Though the author employed the use of multiple POV’S, the story-flow was steady. The plot twists were much unexpected. I’m not supposed to give spoilers. So I will just stop here.
Bukuru a ‘mad man’ is arrested for the alleged serial rape and murder of young women. He is indicted for being the last person to see one of the victims and his knowledge of dirty secrets which connects the Head of State to these murders. He eventually seeks the help of his psychiatrist and a young journalist, Femi to publish an exposé when it became clear he was never going to make it out of prison.
Bukuru is a man riddled with personal demons because of unwise decisions made in his youth and seeking for salvation the best way he could. Unfortunately, the society he was in did not create room for people like him. Sometimes I found myself pitying him, other times I just couldn’t forgive his actions.
Although this book is set in a fictional city Langa, and a fictional country Madia, it is easy to identify these places as Lagos and Nigeria respectively. Most of the incidents were very relatable like power play in government, unlawful arrests and the incompetence of our law enforcement agencies which are still present-day issues. He also dealt with the decay in our society not being solely owed to the government but also how our private lives can contribute to this decay.
Okey Ndibe’s treatment of themes like morality, corruption and fate was clear. His use of language was simple and direct and some of his lines read like poetry.
This book is a great read and I will definitely be looking out for his other books.
5 FAVOURITE QUOTES FROM ARROWS OF RAIN;
- The young woman lay on the sands, her mouth frozen in a smile, as if nothing in the whole world surpassed the sweetness of death.
- “Langa, a city she had never visited before but to which she was drawn because of what she had heard—that it was a vast, strange human bazaar where shame had no odor because people lived anonymously, where some of the most beautiful people walking the streets were ghosts and some of the saddest were corpses waltzing to their graves.”
- “Perhaps she imagined that I could be that sun. Perhaps I was her faith: Nke iru ka. The future is vaster and greater than the past. Echi di ime. The future is pregnant.”
- “That I was not her sun but something altogether damp and clammy. That the besotting power of her sex and all the shame that came with it had rendered me nerveless.”
- “Every familiar thing has become strange. Still, are not all humans, at bottom, mirages and mirrors? Mirages of faces in constant transfiguration, endlessly forming and reforming into multiple images. Mirrors of one another, reflecting now this stranger, now that, becoming one with every living person.”