by A. Igoni Barrett, published Chatto & Windus (2015)
Literary Awards: Longlisted for the inaugural FT/OppenheimerFunds Emerging Voices Awards and was shortlisted for the 2015 Kitschies Golden Tentacle Award
Chai rating: 3.8 out of 5 cups
Black Ass is a story of major transformation. Furo Wariboko, the main character in the book, sleeps a black man and wakes up the next morning a white man. This new identity brings privilege; his new found skin colour (ogibo) enables him to get the senior sales position, a job that he as a black man, could not dream about. He is faced with the realization that he has no future as a black man and no past as a white man the best thing is to make the best of what he now has. Furo decides to run from his past as fast as he can and embrace with pride the privileges his red hair and green eyes bring along.
Many Nigerian books are written for non-Nigerian readers: they explain each context and every foreign word, and the English employed is British as opposed to the native pidgin. This book, however, is unapologetically Nigerian. This is the first Nigerian book that I have read that is written in first-hand local lingo; it reads like the real Nigeria without a map of translation. It is a book for anyone who dares discover stories within their real twisted context. Igoni’s writing is a refreshing surprise of realism within fiction.
Why I didn’t give it 5 stars:
There are unnecessary twists that bring no meaning to the main story and the ending is not well done. I feel cheated: the book left me hanging in suspense in an uncomfortable way.
Would I recommend it? Yes! Black Ass is the Best contemporary African book of our times.
My favorite quote:
“Womanhood comes with its peculiar burdens, among them the constant reminder of a subordinate status whose dominant symptom was uninvited sexual attention from men…A woman is not expected to live alone, to walk alone in peace, or to want to be alone.”
Have you read this book? What did you think of it?
This Guest Post was generously contributed by Janice Nawal, a vivacious trainee solicitor studying in Nairobi, Kenya. You can read more about Janice’s writing adventures at www.janiceink.wordpress.com