Neighbour, how many books set in Nigeria have you read?
I’ve lost count, and I’ve enjoyed almost all of them; Things Fall Apart, Americanah, The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives, Freshwater, Under the Udala Tree, The Famished Road, What it Means When a Man Falls From the Sky, Arrow of God…okay, let me stop here.
A lot of them, which I appreciate about Nigerian authors, create an experience of the setting that is almost tangible. You can taste the jollof, feel the rush of palm wine down your throat, catch the smell of groundnut on the sidewalk and hear the Nigerian accents through the written words. With all this imagination of the places that the books I’ve read took me, reading one after moving to Nigeria was even a better experience.
The day before moving to Lagos I saw Welcome to Lagos on a shelf at a bookstore and I thought it couldn’t be more of an apt choice. This story, of five characters united by their escape from their individual demons to Lagos, presents an accurate picture of of the city. While trying to survive they also have this enormous secret that they need to work together on keeping.
The Lagos that meets them is the Lagos truer than what I had imagined, and the characters in the book go through challenges that I know exist. Their everyday encounters depict the buzz, the hustle, and the madness of this interesting city so well.
It’s highly entertaining and a good Lagos:101 manual for anyone who’s never been here.