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And After Many Days: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, February 16, 2016
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“One rarely finds ‘page-turner’ and ‘poetry’ in the same sentence, but And After Many Days is a rarity indeed. At once calm, collected, lyrical and heartbreaking, Ile’s debut is many things: an achingly tender portrait of family life, a brilliantly executed whodunnit, a searing critique of Nigerian politics, a meditation on love. I couldn’t put it down and was forever changed when I did. The Utu family will stay with me always.” —Taiye Selasi, author of Ghana Must Go
“Ile creates an atmosphere of ominous tension and renders the grief of the family in restrained and moving language. He has a particular talent for reflecting the perfect details that make even a passing moment come to life.” —Chigozie Obioma, The New York Times Book Review
“And After Many Days is a brilliant novel that paints a vivid picture of a changing society, effortlessly shifting between moments and years, all while keeping us grounded in a growing boy’s understanding of himself and the surrounding world. It is a book that offers profound insight into a country that headlines can never capture. A wonderful debut.” —Uzodinma Iweala, author of Beasts of No Nation
"Ile's story of a family and community dealing with the loss of a missing teenager could become the surprise debut of the year." —Flavorwire
“Jowhor Ile is rooted in the lush mindscape of the Niger delta. For here is a writer whose rare insight is evident not only through the voice he breathes into his characters but also in how deep he digs to tap the wellspring of their history. Bumps of pleasure and flashes of recognition lie in ambush on page after page of this smooth-singing, hard-hitting novel—a tender and lucid accomplishment by a distinctive talent.” —A. Igoni Barrett, author of Love Is Power, Or Something Like That
“In haunting, poetic language, Ile crafts a portrayal of a family grappling with the loss of a child. The characters are vivid and well-drawn, full of the inconsistencies and moments of grace that make us human . . . Ile proves himself a master storyteller. Here is a novelist who will undoubtedly become one of the foremost voices in contemporary literature.” —The Root
“Jowhor Ile is a rare talent. This rich book is ripe with mood and full of love, masterfully written with the perfect emotional pitch. Nigeria has a new star.” —Binyavanga Wainaina, author of One Day I Will Write About This Place
About the Author
Jowhor Ile was born in 1980 and raised in Nigeria, where he currently lives. His fiction has appeared in McSweeney's Quarterly and Litro Magazine.
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This book is masterfully written. It takes incredible talent, restraint, and confidence to convey grief, loss, and confusion in the context of mundane life without being heavyhanded, wandering into the maudlin, and belaboring the point until it is lost. Jowhor Ile is a true artist.
The book drew me in very quickly and I found myself reading it in transit, while walking down busy streets, and in the dead of night when I needed rest for my busy job. I just had to know what happened and when I found out, the simplicity with which it was conveyed broke my heart. An excellent book.
I will definitely look out for Jowhor Ile's books.
Most of the book was a flashback to family life up to the tragedy, however, it did often weave between various time periods. In presenting the crisis, the disappearance of Paul, first, and then going back to tell about the family’s past and the closeness and dynamics of the family, it helped us to grow to care more about the family.
This story was about the 1995 situation in which oil companies tried to exploit the lands of Ogoni. Violence and rioting were rampant.
This is a sad story. Unfortunately, it was also very boring for the most part.
The oldest of the three children of Benedict Awari Utu, an attorney, and his wife, an educator, Paul was intelligent and well mannered. “…Paul would simply change the world …” His younger brother Ajie loves and idolizes Paul. “…He counted on Paul’s perspective to steer him in the right direction …” Yet as “And After Many Days” progresses, the reader begins to understand that Paul is deeply angered by the events occurring throughout Nigeria. “…Why is it okay for them to take all the resources …destroy our homes …leave us with nothing …?” Although life goes on, through the years Paul’s disappearance haunts each member of the family. “…When misfortune befalls you, people secretly blame you …so they can believe it won’t happen to them …”
Although Jowher Ile has written the narrative of “And After Many Days” in the third person, the novel creates an impression that Ajie is telling the story. However, in order to distance himself from the impact and emotion associated with Paul’s absence, he speaks as though he is telling of another person’s life. “…The absence of Paul would come to project itself, harsh and relentless …” Remembering a time before Paul’s absence, Ajie says “…This was a year before …normal life …vanished …”
The pace of “And After Many Days” is slow and steady. Characters drive the narrative; there is little that one would consider anything other than everyday life incorporated into the narrative. Characters move forward with their education and careers, but Paul's absence continues to haunt them. Ajie’s memories of haunt him into adulthood. “…Ajie turns around …Paul is not there …Paul is dead …” Further, the tension and emotion underlying the characters’ lives are palpable. The reader cannot help but be affected and may experience unease as the story develops and sympathy for the Itu family grows.
I recommend “And After Many Days” for those interested in novels that highlight different countries and cultures. Those seeking compelling characters, non-stop action, emotional turmoil, or deep, thought provoking works would do well to look elsewhere. Nevertheless, Jowher Ile's writing, portraying everyday Nigerian life, alone makes this novel a worthwhile read.