By Prisca Sam-Duru
With crises of diverse shades all across the globe, the world has reached a point where love is needed to enjoy peace and harmonious living. Little wonder all the commandments of God as noted in the Bible, are fused into one law; love. This is proof that without love, even peace will elude mankind because it takes love to trust, and tolerate one another.
Tony Nwaka, acclaimed author of ‘Mountain of Yesterday’, ‘Mr Benjamin’s Pen’ and ‘Lords of The Creek’, is pushing boundaries in his determination to convince humans to embrace love as it conquers every fear, doubt and violence, with his newest book, ‘Shadows and Nothings’.
With ‘Shadows and Nothings’ coming as his fourth novel, Nwaka has truly earned a unique space in the global literary community, considering content, quality and subject of the book.
The 263-page book arranged in eighteen chapters for smooth flow of the narrative, begins with a letter as a prologue and ends also, with a letter- epilogue, by the same writer. This offers an insight into the mood of the storyline.
‘Shadows and Nothings’ is quite an engaging and suspense-filled masterpiece. Readers are sure to struggle in an attempt to predict the next action or the climax of the story. Right from the beginning of the thrilling tale, the author keeps his readers arrested with hearts pounding, especially while Julius awaits Lauretta’s call which almost takes ages to come through. That waiting period creates some level of nervousness as the reader hopes and prays silently that the call will come through.
Julius meets a stunning beauty at a wedding reception. She declines to let out information about herself except her name- Lauretta which happens to be a name she isn’t known with. Not relenting in his desire to commence a relationship with the Angel that has captured his heart, Julius hands her his complementary card. He believes that like every other well-brought-up woman meeting a guy for the first time, Laurreta is only playing the usual game of hard to get.
“Knowing nothing of the troubles tearing her world apart, Julius relentlessly pursues the enchanting Lauretta until he cracks the walls that circumstances have erected around her.”
With several twists and turns that are constant features in the book, just when Lauretta begins to see reason to put behind her, those past circumstances that undermined her happiness, fate strikes once again. This time, Julius’ past comes calling in between the two love birds.
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The manner in which Nwaka carries his readers along all through the narrative is quite captivating and commendable. The part where Edobor, Julius’ friend sells him the idea that Lauretta could be a ghost is professionally weaved such that it appears convincingly true. You’ll never find out whether Lauretta is actually a ghost or not until you’ve read almost half of the book.
Not only is it obvious that Tony is promoting love which he says conquers in every situation, he is also campaigning to improve on our reading culture. He isn’t doing that only by publishing the book under review but also through his characters and their actions. Lauretta for instance, is portrayed as an avid reader who finds joy in getting fresh stock of books both for her reading pleasure and Grocery store.
The point where she engages in a heated argument with one of her managers who opines that they should end stocking books due to very low patronage, speaks volume of a writer’s passionate appeal to keep the book business alive while hoping for a brighter future. In addition, Lauretta’s parents are in the habit of relaxing during the weekends with Saturday and Sunday Vanguard; an act or habit that lays bare, their level of education and passion for reading.
The book also emphasises on innocence in relationships especially among young ones, a norm scarcely adhered to in the 21st Century due to westernisation and high level of moral decadence. Incessant rape, several forms of sexual harassment and eroded values are sadly, normal abnormalities in recent times.
But as clearly portrayed on page 116, in the author’s account of the relationship between Julius and Mfon his first love during secondary school days, agape love and of course abstinence during courtship or relationship between unmarried people, remain the best and safest. Even “Julius marvelled at how innocuously such youthful relationships were”
In addition to promoting love among people, the author appears bent on helping to strengthen the unity of the country as his characters hail from diverse ethnic groups.
The author’s descriptive prowess brings alive each character, scenario, mien and situation he sets out to describe. This power of description spiced with exellent language makes the work of fiction very relatable and believable.
Lauretta’s trance-like experience is another area worth pointing out. That smells like a bad omen. But what’s the point of the elaborate description on the failure of the rain maker? What is the author aiming to achieve with that? Well, your guess is as good as mine. But then it all gives credence to the thematic underpinning of ‘Shadows and Nothings’.
Page 134, like most other pages with high-tension content, sets readers’ hearts on what appears a life time race. It will do well to slow down. There’s no cause for alarm as Tony manages the situation intelligently as a craftsman that he is.
The book is further made attractive with an apt but nonsuggestive title, with a matching well-designed front cover.
And with a mixture of flashbacks introduced at different occasions, the author engages his readers, moving back and forth while connecting each dot perfectly.
Most importantly, one must laud the author for maintaining a level of decency while describing sex scenarios or intimate acts. His choice of words in describing such erotic scenes, is powerful. The words are elegantly weaved such that the author leaves his readers with some level of psychological disclosures.
No doubt, Tony Nwaka’s style of writing makes ‘Shadows and Nothings’, a potential award winning piece, suitable for even young adults.