Sorry you've been troubled

omoseye_bolaji_by_kunene Sorry you’ve been troubled contains a selection of 20 book reviews by Nigerian writer Omoseye Bolaji. Omoseye Bolaji’s enthusiasm for African literature is infectious. Here is a passionate plea for the written word - for books, for African books in particular, and for reading and writing in Africa generally. In a speech before an audience at Adeleke University, Ede, Nigeria, Bolaji describes his “exceedingly palpable exhilaration and glee, pure joy” about Africa’s “fantastic young writers and catalysts”. He went on to whet the listerners' appetite with a list of some of these authors: “Hector Kunene. Pule Lechese. Charmaine Kolwane. Ishmael Mzwandile Soqaga. Teboho Masakala. Tiisetso Thiba. Skietreker. Omight Adebayo”.

Social media and ‘Goodreads’
At Adeleke University Bolaji warned his audience: “writers, especially the young ones, should realise that spending hours on social media ... in no way develops reading and books”, but also offered heartfelt praise for the internet’s specialized sites pertaining to books and literature. Goodreads is one of his favourites and, in addition to the text of his speech in Ede, Sorry you’ve been troubled contains a selection of the book reviews by Bolaji and is among the plethora that he has written for ‘Goodreads’ since 2015 (and we should expect more!).

Short and striking
Posted under the name of Eric, Bolaji’s reviews are typically short, their language both rich and informal. In just a few sentences he not only captures what struck him most about the book in question, but makes you want to experience and reflect on it yourself. The reviews in ‘Sorry you’ve been troubled’ focus mainly on older Nigerian and South African writing and include work by Soyinka and Achebe but also lesser known authors.

Are you keen to read (more) African literature, but don’t know where to start? Here is your guide!

African literature
The following books reviewed in ‘Sorry you’ve been troubled’ are available at the African Studies Centre Leiden’s library: Anatomy of female power (Chinweizu); Black man’s dilemma (Areoye Oyebola); Kossoh town boy (Robert Wellesley Cole); The edifice (Kole Omotosho); She no longer weeps (Tsitsi Dangaremba); People of the city (Cyprian Ekwensi); The history of the Yorubas (Samuel Johnson); African delights (Siphiwo Mahala); An introduction to the African novel (Eustace Palmer); The trials of brother Jero (Wole Soyingka); The trouble with Nigeria (Chinua Achebe). Comes the voyager at last, by Kofi Awoonor, is available in Dutch translation: Komt de reiziger weerom : relaas van de terugkeer naar Afrika. In addition, at Leiden University libraries: Why are we so blest? (Ayi Kwei Armah).

Should you be looking for one of the other reviewed books? Please ask, and the ASCL library will see what can be done!

Heleen Smits