Book Review: Born on A Tuesday (#24/30)

Title: Born on A Tuesday

Author: Elnathan John

Published By: Cassava Republic Press

Release Date: 2015

Genre: Bildungsroman

Format: Paperback

Length: 261 pages

Synopsis

Dantala lives in Abatan Latin and studies in a Sufi Quranic school, far away from home. By chance he meets gang leader Banda, a nominal Muslim. Dantala is thrust into a world with fluid rules and casual violence. In the bloody aftermath of presidential elections he runs away and ends up living in a Salafi mosque. With a simple and practical approach to life, as he teaches himself English, Dantala slowly embraces the Salafism preached by his new benefactor, Sheikh Jamal.

He falls in love with Sheikh’s beguiling daughter, Aisha, and tries to woo her without breaking the rules. All the while, Sheikh struggles to deal with growing jihadist extremism within his own ranks.

Narrated in Dantala’s raw yet inquisitive voice, this astonishing debut novel explores brotherhood, religious fundamentalism and loss, and the effects of extremist politics on everyday life in contemporary Northern Nigeria.

Review

I loved Becoming Nigerian by the author so I was eager to see if this book was any good because I had heard quite a lot of good reviews.

I was not disppointed. IN THE LEAST BIT!

Wow.

This book is absolutely amazing. Where do I even start from?

This book, although fictional was absolutely life-changing for me, more so because it hit close to home in every sense.

Have you ever turned on the news to hear of some young, uneducated Northern men who are paid to vote illegally during elections or vandalize items or even kill people who may be contesting elections? Have you ever peered out of your car window in curiosity or watched a short clip of a video of young men, some of whom may not even be up to 18, from the North causing a ruckus, ready to kill or be killed fighting the police and willing to risk it all?

Have you ever wondered what goes on in the minds of some of these young men? Why they would carry out some of these gruesome acts seemingly unfazed?

This book gives its reader an open window into the mind of a young man from the North who finds himself in the midst of all these.

Through Dantala’s eyes, I experienced some parts of Northern Nigeria that I have never visited and may never visit. I tasted Northern street delicacies and felt the comfort and satisfaction derived from them. I grieved with him when he lost a close friend in the midst of election violence, islamic extremism and chaos. I felt his pains, regret and doubts about some of his life choices and accompanied him on his journey of self-discovery.

Through Dantala’s eyes, I understood, without really understanding, what it felt like to be stuck in poverty while utilizing whatever means necessary to survive. I understood the huge role religion plays in the decision-making process of humans.

Dantala humanised the stereotypical “Northern jobless youth out to incite violence and chaos willing to die for whatever cause”.

This book exposed me to another world I never knew existed. I don’t know if it is because I tend to be quite deep or passionate, but it was life-changing in the sense that since I read this book, whenever I look at a male youth from the Northern parts of Nigeria, I see life through his eyes. I understand that there are hidden factors that I know nothing of, behind where he is in life and the decisions he makes, good or bad.

I loved the fact that the book is written in the first-person narrative because it allowed me to go deep into Dantala’s mind. The themes of brotherhood, religious fundamentalism and loss, and the effects of extremist politics on everyday life in Northern Nigeria were greatly explored in the book. No matter where I found myself, whenever I opened the pages of the book, I found myself thrust into Dantala’s world, as though a fly on the wall.

I loved the simplicity of the writer’s style and the fact that excerpts of Dantala’s journal were included in the book to give it a more realistic vibe. I also love the realistic ending of the book (which I promise not to spoil).

Unputdownable. A must-read.

Arrgghh! Elnathan is one of my faves.

Verdict

Definitely a 9/10 in my books!!

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