04 May / And After Many Days by Jowhor Ile [in Library Journal]
For the rest of his life, Ajie would be known as the last person to have seen Paul, the family’s exemplary, exceptional firstborn. On a Monday afternoon during Nigeria’s 1995 rainy season, 17-year-old Paul announces he’s visiting a friend in the next compound; he leaves the house but doesn’t return.
As initial not-quite-concern morphs into utter desperation, Ajie – four years younger – documents his family’s story, current events interspersed with what transpired previously. Moving back and forth in time, he narrates his exploits as the youngest and most rambunctious of three children in a tight-knit family, reveals the cosmopolitan experiences of their liberal parents, and recounts his extended family’s involvement with an oil company’s intrusion into their ancestral village.
Jowhor Ile overlays Ajie’s personal history onto Nigeria’s turbulent, violent recent past to create a debut novel of combustive intensity and universal heartbreak. Fans of Chigozie Obioma’s stupendous The Fishermen will find resonating satisfaction listening to Nigerian British actor Chukwudi Iwuji mellifluously narrate another unforgettable title set in his native country. Libraries searching for international titles will do well to acquire both of these works.