September in Books and a Peek at October

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

September was a good reading month for me, as it’s been ages since I managed 6 books in one month. September also marks the start of the R.I.P. X challenge and I completely immersed myself in creepy fall reads. I hope to manage separate reviews for most of them, so this’ll be just a quick overview. I read Lockhart’s hyped work before signing up for the challenge and can recommend it as a YA mystery-ish quick read.

During my last migraine, once the absolute worst was over and before I even managed to face the house outside my bed in sunglasses, I tried listening to The Body in the Library, an old comfort read, on audible. Earplugs were out, but the narrator was great and the story a very familiar one and so it was nice to drift in and out of the migraine haze with a cozy crime. I haven’t really given the newer tv adaptations of the Marple books a go, but I think they’ll be great fall tv (even without a fireplace). If you’ve watched them, let me know how you liked them! What with my goal to read more YA literature and fantasy, I chose Cinder and Rosemary and Rue for the R.I.P. challenge and enjoyed them both quite a lot. I’ll post a review of Cinder sometime this week, and I’ve already put both series on my tbr.

September was also the month I discovered e-book flats and I managed to finish two books on Scribd: The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls and NOS4A2. The first was a children’s book I think, but it was creepy as hell along the lines of Coraline, so I maybe kid’s are much tougher than I am. But it was a great read and I’ll definitely try more of Legrand’s works. NOS4A2 was even creepier and at times a tough read, but it was a quick read despite the 450 something pages and had a great main character.

Now in October, I’ll be continuing with my R.I.P. list and this month I’m also taking part in Aarti’s Diversiverse challenge. The challenge is a simple but important one: Read and review and book written by a person of color during October 4th and 17th. I already have the new Jemisin book The Fifth Season and Due’s The Good House on my R.I.P. list, so if I’m short of time, I might combine both challenges. But I’ve been thinking of what would make my reading more diverse and also be more connected to my own context and place and so I thought I’d read a book by a German woman of color:

Popoola-Also-by-mail_rbg_web

Also by Mail is a comedy-drama by London-based Nigerian-German author, speaker and performer Olumide Popoola. It’s about two Nigerian-German siblings traveling to Nigeria to bury their dead father, fitting in with their Nigerian family and their grief and loss as well as being racialized in Germany. I chose this work for how it resonates with me and also because it’s available in English.

This month I will also be continuing my Scribd trial and I have so many books on my wish list, I think I will continue the e-book flat. At the top of my list is The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley, I’m about 200 pages in and love it so far. This is what I want from fantasy and speculative fiction more generally, complex ‘other’ worlds to explore matters of multiple genders, colonialism and genocide and trump the horn for social justice matters.

That’s it from me, how was your September? And what’s on the tbr for October?

Review: Bozo David Hurensohn/ The Man Who Came in from the Back of Beyond

The Man Who Came in from the Back of Beyond is a novel in a novel. Bandele-Thomas tells two connected stories, both taking place in Nigeria. The framing story is told by a first-person narrator, Lakemfa, who is invited to his highschool teacher Maude´s home. This comes as a surprise to Lakemfa, who with his firends disturbs the class and provokes his teacher to outbursts of anger. On one of the narrator´s visits, Maude tells his pupil his life story and shows him his unfinished manuscript of the true story of Bozo, which is called The Man Who Came in from the Back of Beyond. The story of Bozo makes up the second narrative in this book. In a kind of theatrical five-act-structure, Bandele-Thomas alternates the story of Lakemfa and Maude, and Bozo´s story.

Bozo´s story is, as they say, stranger than fiction. The beginning of Bozo´s life reminded me somewhat of Irving´s Garp; because of complications at Bozo´birth, his mother has to have a hysterectomy. Bozo´s father cannot deal with his wife´s infertility and becomes impotent, for all this he blames his son. Bozo grows up to be a reader, and a devout Christian like his mother, until he comes across metaphysical texts and theological criticism. From then on he argues with his mother about the inconsistencies in the bible and is expelled from school for arguing his religion teacher into a faint. What is waiting for him at home, however, is much worse. I´m not going to give it away, suffice it to say that it is life-changing and Bozo turns to smoking and growing marijuana and transforms into an anarchist with plans to change the world. Bozo´s story is a fantastical and surreal one, telling of violence and corruption and the falling apart of families.

In the end, Maude lets the cat out of the bag about both his and Bozo´s story, and Lakemfa is changed, deciding to stop his petty thievery and start listening to his conscience. It is through an overdose of cheap sensationalism, as a result of Maude´s stories, that Lakemfa seems to be transformed. For the middle part of this book, the stories of Maude and Bozo, are quite sensational and remind of gangster stories and pulp fiction. Maude remains a teacher and his stories can be seen as part of the moral education of Lakemfa.

The Man Who Came in from the Back of Beyond is Biyi Bandele-Thomas´ first novel, published in 1991. In 1991, Nigeria was far away from being a democratic republic and was still under Babandinga´s military dictatorship, which was known for its corruption. Nigeria´s history is a troubled one, full of violence, unstable governments and military rule.

Bandele-Thomas incorporates his country´s history in his first novel, turning it into an absurd, sensational, ironic story which is inventive, complex and full of dark humour. Despite the overdrawn story, the characters are well-rounded and never become caricatures. It is hard to believe that this is a first novel! I´m happy I signed up for the Nigerian Mini-Challenge, otherwise I might have never heard of or read The Man Who Came in from the Back of Beyond.

I´ve also got The Icarus Girl out of the library for this challenge, haven´t read any Oyeyemi yet. What other books by Nigerian authors can you recommend?

Have you reviewed this book? Let me know and I´ll add a link!