And After Many Days by Johwor Ile
Published by: Kachifo Farafina
Date of Publication: 2016
And After Many Days is a novel of childhood, of the delicate complex balance of power and love between siblings; the unique ecosystem of a family.
It is also a portrait of a society, as the old world gives way to a new status quo. A novel of quiet, devastating force, And After Many Days holds at its centre a profound story of life, loss and becoming.
“When misfortune befalls you, people secretly blame you… People can’t help it. They do it so they can believe it won’t happen to them. They haven’t done whatever it is you have done to deserve such suffering.”
And After Many Days by Johwor Ile begins when tragedy falls on a family when the firstborn, Paul, goes missing. The narrator, Ajie, the youngest child takes us through shifting timelines of his memories of his brother, the general family dynamic and changes in their society that culminate to Paul’s disappearance.
Ajie recollects a charming childhood for a middle-class Nigerian family. This book is a tablet of nostalgia, especially for anyone with siblings. I don’t care who you are, if you grew up in Nigeria and can’t relate to these kids, your childhood was broken.
And After Many Days is an ode to childhood, family, innocence and Port Harcourt. Especially Port Harcourt, so much so I’m beefing anyone who grew up in PH and can relate to the setting.
I loved the little nuggets of historical facts littered around this story. Who knew Port Harcourt is named for some white guy who had never been to the place? It’s not surprising but I always assumed it was native, which now I’m thinking about it… I should have known better. But I digress.
Johwor Ile’s work is beautiful, the characters are one of those that stay with you long after you drop the book. The last book I read that got me in a similar state was Chimamanda’s Purple Hibiscus, also a debut novel. So it’s no wonder that I couldn’t stop comparing Ajie’s voice to Kambili’s. And frankly, it came up short.
Ajie seems to know things he couldn’t possibly know from his limited view, and it felt like his voice got muddled with his father’s, Bendic, a lot of the time. Also, while I enjoyed the simplicity of the main storyline, Paul’s mysterious disappearance was resolved like an Africa Magic movie and I’m not sure how I feel about that.
I have to remind myself this is a début novel. The thought that it can only get better from here has me putting Johwor Ile on my must read African Author list. It’s a short list too.
Quiet and obsessed with books.