BOOK REVIEW: Ẹ̀fọ́ Rírò by Iquo DianaAbasi
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amed after a popular Yoruba delicacy, ‘Ẹ̀fọ́ Rírò’, is a short collection that is an acquired taste, but one that those who appreciate it will savour. Its evocative title and the vibrant cover make it irresistible and, having purchased it, we’re quite glad that we did.   

The Blurb:

This collection is set primarily within Nigeria, and the stories here cover varied social themes including spousal abuse, religious dogma, love, bravery, betrayal and vengeance. It speaks of the untamed resilience of the everyday Nigerian who is faced with the vicissitudes of life. We meet Sixtus the driver whose love of a particular delicacy has him biting off more than he can chew, and we laugh to our heart’s delight. But all is not humorous in this collection; anything can happen in the city of Lagos, a man disappears after a Champions League semi-final and we are drawn into his wife’s travails, we shine light on paedophilia through the keen eyes of a gossip, we take a peek at what love and lust looks like on the internet, then we head to Oguta where a ritual to revive a sick husband takes an unexpected turn. Despite the human tendency to betray and disappoint, we encounter stories that show how people tread life on a carpet of love and hope.

Literandra Review:

Nigerians are complex people, with complex identities that can only be appreciated by people who have a contextual understanding of the realities that inform their daily existence. They cannot be accurately described by adjectives that are mostly informed by stereotypes, because while some may be loud, many are not. Some may be arrogant, but many more are also intelligent, kind, caring, open, friendly – you name it. For some reason, however, Nigerians do not seem to be able to shake the Western-fabricated stereotypes of being loud and noisy, with an aptitude for scamming. 

What Iquo DianaAbasi manages to do with her short story collection ‘Ẹ̀fọ́ Rírò’, is to paint a fuller, more complete and complex image of Nigeria and Nigerians. 

The characters in the stories range from desperate women who fall prey to ruthless and sexist systems, to young adult men who struggle with the notions of adulthood, manhood, and the meaning of life. 

The range of topics, plots, and characters contained in this short story collection is remarkable, and the writing is beautifully crafted throughout. 

What Iquo DianaAbasi manages to do with her excellent short story collection ‘Ẹ̀fọ́ Rírò’, is to paint a fuller, more complete and complex image of Nigeria and Nigerians.

It was very refreshing to see a short story collection by a Nigerian woman writer open with a short story completely in Nigerian pidgin – the only problem with it was that it wasn’t long enough, but that in itself is credit to the writer because it succeeded in setting the scene for the rest of the collection. From the beginning, it was clear that we were in for a creative, adventurous and enjoyable ride right after reading the first story, and indeed, ‘Ẹ̀fọ́ Rírò’ would not disappoint. 

The range of topics, plots, and characters contained in this short story collection is remarkable, and the writing is beautifully crafted throughout.

Our stand-out stories would be the titular one ‘Ẹ̀fọ́ Rírò’ and ‘Yellow Slipper’. Both stories combined seem to encompass the ups and downs, the paradoxes, absurdities, but also the fabulousness of Nigerianness. Nigerians live, love, laugh, fight, and pray hard, there are no half-measures, neither in failure nor in success. ‘Ẹ̀fọ́ Rírò’ encompasses this uniqueness and plurality and packages them into a punchy, touching and often deeply moving collection of short stories. 

Nigerians live, love, laugh, fight, and pray hard, there are no half-measures, neither in failure nor in success.

Once again, Nigeria has churned out a work of high literary quality, of cultural importance, and of social relevance. 

We’ll be sure to recommend this collection to anyone looking to read an entertaining, relevant, and at times utterly surprising short story collection. The book is published in Nigeria by Parresia and is available for international readers on Amazon. 

Congratulations to the author, Iquo DianaAbasi, for publishing such a brilliant collection of short stories. Akwa Ibom isongo! 

Once again, Nigeria has churned out a work of high literary quality, of cultural importance, and of social relevance.