Literature, and Prose in particular, often comes to book enthusiasts in various dimensions. Novels sometimes play out as one long single story, and at other times they develop as one flexible story with multiple sub-texts. There are times, however, and rarely too, where the narrative does not only consist of multiple stories that somehow happen to get tied together but has these stories in question so rich in content and able to stand on their own as wholly separate manuscripts.
Maik Nwosu, born at Onitsha in 1965, is an award-winning poet and journalist, who teaches English as a Professor at the University of Denver, Colorado, U. S. A. He is also the author of the books “Invisible Chapter” and “Alpha Songs”.
“A Gecko’s Farewell” is a novel set in the mid and late 1990s, with a few trips back in time. It dwells on the story of three people from different parts of the world whose lives find a way to connect. There is Etiaba, the teacher from Sa’ra (Sapara), a small village in South Eastern Nigeria; Nadia, a photographer from Khan’khalili, a small rural dwelling in Egypt; and Mzikalazi, a doctor from an old town near Kruger Park in South Africa.
The book takes us on a journey through the experiences of each individual, and the remarkable events that somehow turned their lives around. For Etiaba, there is a story of a dog-loving village, military dictatorship, suppressed freedom, political witch hunts, lost love, relocation to Lagos, economic frustration, a father’s painful memories of the civil war, and ultimate migration to the United States of America. Nadia’s story dwells on humble beginnings, luck (or the lack thereof) in love, religious differences, adventure, family ties and religious extremism which culminates in an escape to France. Mzilikazi’s story involves a country immersed in apartheid, the extermination of a small village, friendship with monkeys, taking up arms as an opposition child soldier, fugitive existence in neighbouring countries, uneasy freedom and migration to England, with romantic bumps on the way.
Scores of pages down the line, the novel moves on from the personal stories of these individuals and lays out how their lives form a nexus, particularly with Etiaba’s creation of Gecko X, the online platform where they meet, share their experiences and bond, even to the point of one getting engaged to the other without a physical rendezvous. The book is a celebration of the internet’s power, it showcases collective triumph over individual adversities, and nostalgia is the dominant feeling among the major characters, a nostalgia enforced by their attachment to their home countries even while flung so far.
Now and then across Maik Nwosu’s offering, the danger of an “east or west, home is the best” cliche lurks around, but skilful storytelling and great use of detail averts that danger. The novel is a meaningful story that stretches beyond immigration, socio-political unrest and brain drain. It is a beautiful blend of perspectives and a display of how hearts can get intertwined from kilometres and oceans away. The style reeks of the author’s academic pedigree a little bit, and there is that “writing workshop” vibe on some portions of the book, but when you can write, your story would resonate nonetheless.
Jerry Chiemeke is a lawyer who resides in Lagos. His works have been featured on The Kalahari Review, Brittle Paper and Elsie Isy. His editorials have also appeared on True Nollywood Stories and he is currently a book reviewer on literary blog Bagus Mutendi. He recently published his first book, “The Colours In These Leaves”