4 out of 4 stars
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Rudolf Ogoo Okonkwo, a Nigerian journalist and author, explores what life is like for the Africans living in America through a collection of engaging fictional stories in This American Life Sef.
Using humor and sarcasm, Okonkwo jolts the reader into reality regarding the real American life awaiting anyone leaving their mother country. For many Africans, living in the land of “the free and the brave” is more than alluring. However, even if the promise of a better future still stands, the culture shock that many African men experience makes them question their move. In the story, I Will Marry When I Want, Okonkwo investigates how roles change between men and women in the US when compared to what is the norm in Africa, specifically, Nigeria. Other important themes that feature in the stories include the feeling of estrangement, the loss of identity, the responsibility that the immigrant feels to return to their home and the loss of stature as an African man.
For me, the beauty of This American Life Sef is the writing style that is used. The stories are hilarious and engaging. The sarcasm used makes the accounts even more comical. In the included extract obtained from an interview with Sun Newspaper's Henry Akubuiro, Okonkwo tells the story of an African man who is afraid of unpacking a microwave that he purchased so that his wife does not ask him to warm his own food. The author continues to state, “If my friend comes to America, he will be a dead man walking. In America, his problem won't be a small matter like having to go and warm his food. He will find himself literally and figuratively pounding yam with pestle and mortar while carrying the baby on his back.”
Another great feature of the book is its presentation of reality as opposed to mere fantasy. The author appreciates the challenges that come with settling in a new culture and the impact the adjustments have on the immigrant. The characters are created to fully present these daunting differences that any African man has to get used to in the US. The author also has a knack for creating and presenting scenes that seem real. Many words and phrases from the author’s native language are used which ultimately add depth to the plots.
This American Life Sef is an African literal masterpiece. It is a must-read for readers interested in investigating the shocking reality that awaits African men while settling in the US. It is thoroughly captivating and also well-edited. I rate it 4 out of 4 stars.
This American Life Sef
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