Swallow by Sefi Atta is one that will leave you pondering on so many issues. One of the prevailing issues that she describes and narrates so deeply is poverty. Poverty in Nigeria is a glaring reality and Atta, through characters like Rose and Tolani show how this plague robs many of their humanity and goodness. It is a sorry tale of how poverty can recreate a person or make them turn against others.
Therefore, here are five reasons why you should read the book.
- It is so relatable. Every character, place and even the dialogues are things Nigerians can really relate with. The descriptions of streets, hustles, neighbourhoods, office politics, etc. are matters that many will be familiar with.
- Beautiful blend of the rural and urban. Atta does this masterfully. She is able to tell the story of rural dwellers as she is able to tell the story of urban life well. So, with this book, it is the best of both worlds.
- Reality is real. Sefi Atta tells a real story and paints the true picture of Nigeria in the past and sadly, it is the same picture in the Nigeria of the present.
- A myriad of issues doesn’t escape Atta’s pen. She not only talks about poverty as a problem in Nigeria but also talks about the challenges women face such as, sexual assault and abuse, fertility issues, domestic violence etc. Atta through many characters show that women are still under the tyrannical rule of the patriarchy.
- Parallel story telling. This book is as much Tolani’s story as it is her mother’s. Atta tells the stories of both women showing their challenges, trials and probably successes (though, that is still debatable). However, it was done in a way that the story doesn’t lose fluidity and coherence.
Well, these are not exhaustive but these reasons are why you need to head to the bookstore and get your copy. Well done, Sefi Atta for penning this down. Watch the video of my discussion on the book with the founder of BookPeddlerng, Temilade Aina on the 30th of October 2021 by 5pm. Link to my videos www.onomeonwah.org/bookishreflections. Please, don’t forget to subscribe.