Friday 31 August 2012

"Farad" by Emmanuel Iduma

Perhaps my want of descriptive words is due to the unusual nature of this book. Imaginably, I must just admit Farad is innovative and avoid any struggle with confusing adjectives. In truth, I earnestly searched for words to deconstruct Farad with. It is a novel as labelled; a collection of stories in passing; and a melting mixes of consensual resolutions. However, Farad is never to be grouped. Iduma’s writing proficiency surges with a new kind of independence roaming freely. Farad allows its characters to reel out personal concerns, albeit in a confident way. The reader is beforehand dazzled with beautiful expressions and later sponged into the characters’ travails and yearnings.

This book is an experimental fulfilment of the uncommonly common. It is broken into eight different stories with unrelated plots. This is surprising. This style will definitely make you angry. The stories are disjointed but united in denouement. After everything, you will also grieve over your taste for normalcy. Everything about this book is resplendently different. Iduma is a daring writer; and this debut does not portray otherwise. Farad is a collage; a delicate calligraphy; a head with multiple faces. Though its resolution is single, the divergent parts are necessary.

D.H. Lawrence thus described a good novel in this manner; “…it can inform and lead into new places the flow of our sympathetic consciousness and can lead our sympathy from things that are dead.”  That balances well with what Farad is. Farad thoroughly searches through the complexity of human existences and the differences of religion discoloured by deceitful ethnicity. It goes on to attune them with the simple yet delicate issues of everyday worries – the daily worries that easily connect with our feelings.  Farad is authoritative in its distinctness, it despises the dead way of novel writing.

This book is that which you call it and what you think it is not. Both meanings are in the contradiction of your thinking. Iduma writes with such poetry that he makes us parts of everything in the book.

To enter her room would have been to stay in water while drowning, to hit my head on the wall when already bleeding” (pg. 103) “I begin to think that mirrors should be like Photoshop, that I should be able to look into them and see my face in greyscale and sepia” (pg. 94) “The vicarage had been built forty years earlier. Sometimes, living there, I felt I was part of an archaeological narrative.” (Pg. 63)

Farad: Reading 5/8

Memory Band >-> Ella is stuck in memories of horrible scenes and personal encounters. Frank becomes her only passage from incoherent mutterings. In seeking Frank’s help, emotions will be toyed with, for there will be flooding questions of the hurriedly flung affair between Frank and Goody; Goody’s mother’s disapproval of Frank; Chris’ marital lifestyle and the cause of Abacha’s death. But since all these will be unravelled only if Frank attends to Ella’s sickly state, Frank will, in trying to heal Ella’s memories, make discoveries about his life, his relationships and the psychology of the human mind. The memory band is elastic and when stretched, will also reveal the harsh beauty of the Lekes. Everything is a Memory Band of dreams collectively shattered and quickly salvaged in chips. This is what a memory is; a collection of fragmented pasts gummed into relevance and worthlessness. The story sets in Ife.

One Man >-> Iduma is creatively good. He intelligently leeches off the Jos crisis to create the displacement of beliefs in the grand scheme of things. One Man tells what one is used to with a touch of colour. Munachimso is the One Man. He is the one who crosses the ethno-religious boundary. Even when he sees death, he dares it. Muna is an unusual bred of a priest and a man of disdainful history. This story tapers his setting in Ife.

Helper >-> There is a gifted side to separateness. Ugo may not be understood, yet her life bears great influence on those who must have encountered her. Her family thinks she is the crazy one and later considers hers a worthy destiny. For the love of Ugo, her brother becomes lost. Music finds him; for that is what Ugo stands for. This also sets in Ife

A Father’s Son >-> This reads more of Iduma’s life. There is an inclusion of his recent lives in this story. Iduma is a current participant of Trans-African Photography Project and so is the son in this story who follows his photography passion to Mali. Iduma studied Law at Ife, the father’s son does too. I only hope Iduma is not as frustrated as this father’s son is.

The Sound of Things to Come >-> Mo’s dreams presage many happenings. Above all, it bodes Beams’ disenchantment from her routine cycle and Edwin’s lonliness.

The eight different stories are pieces of a central whole. They fit together as you progress in the reading. They all are interlocking experiences of the presented characters.

Spotting the Slips

I am familiar with Iduma’s writings. I have read many of his essays. It is just so unfortunate that Iduma can’t prevent his essayistic language from smearing his narrative. This is so unfortunate indeed. As one reads on, one almost cannot separate the voice of the author from the characters and one character from the other. They all seem to speak with the forceful tone that comes with Iduma’s uniformed style of writing essays. Although the dictions are crafty, they carry a rigid tone that leaves no room for individuality of voice. That might have worked if the book is majorly mono-characterised. But with a novel that seeks to unify various characters in their complexities; it really pulls it down.

There are some contradictions and inconsistencies too, though minor and could possibly escape passive reading. On page 81;

I didn’t have my brother’s email address, and I didn’t want to guess.
This statement sounds outright lame. Can an email address ever be guessed? It does not fit and shouldn’t have been included. If the trait of the character that says this suggests a low-intelligent personality, that might have been permitted. You don’t guess an email, you know it.

There is another one on page 42;

“In those moments, he saw or imagined how Leke was shot. His memory painted a picture of Leke stepping out of his car; he must have been confused at all the noise around him, all the people with green branches, all the parked cars – which had made him park his car in the first place. He imagined how, when the first shot rang, Frank must have tried to enter his car but failed, given the number of people who had gathered around him, begging to be let into his car.”
I really can’t understand how Leke turns Frank here. The mistake may be slight but it is misleading and confusing all the same.

Expressions on page 2 and 75 were almost identical.

Do you want anything?…he began to think anything could mean a drink or a purpose for coming.” (Pg 2)
And then on page 75;

“You want anything?” I asked. After I asked this question, I felt foolish. I realized it sounded as though I was asking if she wanted to drink..
If the same hospitality discomfort between Frank and Goody also plays out between Muna and Taibat, there are other totally different expressions that can achieve that. Using those similar expressions do not show the uniformity in the common mistake made in hospitality, it only hints on dearth of creative expressions.

Iduma can’t be wholly blamed for these loopholes, the editor should be.

Into your reading list I commend Farad.


  1. I have always admired your reviews and I would recommend them to everyone.

    1. Thank you so much, Nana Fredua. CLR appreciates your comment. We are grateful you'd share the reviews here with everyone. Thank you. We appreciate you.

  2. This was an excellent review, Joseph. Quite different in style from the other you wrote that I have read. Farad looks interesting.

    1. Thank you, Samuel. I am glad you found the review interesting.