So she called me the other day, fruit of the loins of the son of my grandpa’s brother. And she said, you must come visit us, you must bring your family to
And so, we went all of us, to
Everything Good Will Come was a delicious choice. Atta’s book is about relationships. We follow Enitan, the main character as she celebrates the passages of life with a delightful cast of relationships, a colorful spectrum that includes her constantly feuding parents, her friend Sheri, and her boyfriends. The issues that the book addresses are refreshingly universal and Western readers who have overdosed on horrific stories about
“Hot were the days as I remember them, with runny-egg sunshine and brief breezes. The early afternoons were for eat and sleep breaks: eat a heavy lunch, sleep like a drunk.” (p7).
It would be hard to imagine laconic words like these used to describe any part of
Inside the plane to
“I smiled at my father. He was always miserable after work, especially when he returned from court. He was skinny with a voice that cracked and I pitied him whenever he complained: “I’m working all day, to put clothes on your back, food in your stomach, pay your school fees. All I ask is for peace when I get home. Instead, you give me wahala. Daddy can I buy ice cream. Daddy can I buy Enid Blyton. Daddy my jeans are torn. Daddy, Daddy, Daddy. You want me dead?”” (p20).
The entire row of daughters and ladies rocked with laughter; and the universality of the passage made the meaning of wahala obvious. Now, that is good writing!
Sefi Atta’s book gently throws up a lot of troubling issues and one learns to admire the dark intelligence that plotted these chapters. And she can play with words in the manner of a sister flirting with her brother. The words pop up and hide again and reappear in delightfully strange places. Hear this:
“The wind popped my umbrella inside out, flipped my skirt almost to my waist. It ripped tears from my eyes and knocked my braids backward into my face.” (p78).
Sweet, like biting into a juicy, free-range, truly organic mango. Sweet.
In the beginning there were walls. Atta’s book reminds me of the beginning of the end, perhaps. Anyone nostalgic for the
Yes, the sister can write. She weaves a beautiful story of courage with unrelenting insistence. She says out loud to a jaded world: We come from a land of incredible beauty and unspeakable sadness. The reader never gets over the shock of witnessing enormous waste of potential and resources. And I am not talking about crude oil. Atta writes in the grand tradition of the writers before her. And she says to me that language is all in the mind. When t listen to the poets and writers of my childhood, they are speaking and writing in English but I smell the earth of my ancestors, I smell the musty sweat of my ancestors’ masquerades speaking to me from across the Atlantic, comforting me, soothing me. And in these books, they tell me that this earth also belongs to me. Atta has taken a rightful place in that pantheon of greats.
The book wears its frailties gently on its sleeve and we are drawn to the writer’s humanity. The book is not without its weaknesses; in its unnecessary explanation of Nigerian terms, one senses a yearning to reach out to a mass market. Why would anyone bother to explain that eba is “a meal made from ground cassava?” When next you read about pasta, remind the author to footnote its explanation.
Sister Atta, you speak to me in your book. You speak to me from deep in the bowels of my ancestors’ coven. You speak to me howling, bawling, and soaking me in the song of our mothers’ grief. In the feverish insistence of your voice, in the feverish insistence of your rhythm, in the pounding of your feet on the earth of our mothers, you speak to me. And joy rides our senses going places in the heart where fear still clings to life. Our sister, look at joy bounding up and down the streets of happy memories. Our sister, in your book, joy takes me by the hand and sets me free to dream of the way things used to be. I don’t remember much of