REVIEW OF EFO RIRO & OTHER STORIES
by IQUO DIANA ABASI

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REVIEW OF EFO RIRO & OTHER STORIES
by IQUO DIANA ABASI

 















Told in exuberant Pidgin English by the driver of the red Venza, the opening story is the eponymous Efo Riro.  It is superb, but so are the rest of Iquo Diana Abasi’s stories about a range of characters: frustrated women, errant spouses, vanished spouses, callous lovers, village gossips, unlikely knights in shining armour, corporate executives, medical doctors, and a lesson teacher who is taught a lesson he will never forget. That story was hilarious; it was also shocking. Other stories will move you with their pathos. Many others are colourful situations: white collar crime, secret documentary marriage, social media trysts, escape to the big city, the impossibly long arm of Providence, and one of my two favourites, a crazy tale of polygamy and patricide. In the village, Abasi keeps faith with the sights and sounds and pace of the village. In the inner-city, about the hurly-burly and harsh realities, she is real, writing without sensationalism about the setting and about the mentality of people living in these tough economies. Questionable behavior, disgraceful behaviour, eye-brow raising behaviour, abound in these tales but there is no heavy-handed social criticism from this born story-teller who is deft, canny, with satire. In the body of one sentence for instance, a hijab is swiftly re-arranged into a Christian headscarf as the Muslim heroine frantically seeks relief from her suffering and answers from anywhere, even a Pentecostal church. And Abasi must be the master of surprise endings. The story that touched me the most starts with the implosion of a dysfunctional, low-income family. With that collapse comes the unexpected light of hope in the heart of the teenage child. He suddenly accesses a new knowledge: his own individual agency and power to break the chains of the example set by his parents and steer his own destiny. Stories that expose only the negative side of life in Nigeria have become trope, cliché.   In Efo Riro & Other Stories, Iquo Diana Abasi puts her considerable gifts to work to present a rich, far more nuanced picture.



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