It has been a while since I last read a book that captivated me so much that I couldn’t put it down until I read the very last page. Ebele Ufondu’s The Land that Shivers did that! It is a literary masterpiece by many standards, and I am neither exaggerating nor being patronizing when I say that. There are a number of reasons why this book ranks as one of my favorite books by a Nigerian author, but I will mention just three.
First of all, the grammar is impeccable. Being also a copy editor, I cannot help but read through my “magnifying lens” whenever I read anything, regardless of whether I am reading for pleasure or for knowledge. Ebele’s command of the English language is evident from her mastery of the rules of grammar, syntax, and semantics. Her effortless use of expressions and figures of speech is very impressive. To be frank, this is an attribute that is not very common.
The storytelling in The Land that Shivers is fantastic. The author’s use of vivid imagery, which is very akin to hyperrealism in the visual art, enables the reader to easily form detailed mental images of scenarios, situations, and objects described in the book. Even the smallest detail about the setting of an event, the ambiance of an environment, or the circumstance surrounding a character are not left out. For example, her description of the accident in the first chapter of the book was so vivid that I felt as though I was actually watching the accident happen; I could almost literally feel the shock, pain, and emotions of those involved. Such striking imagery is a hallmark of a good fiction writer, which this author clearly is. Her narrative style is also very good; she blends the third person narrative technique with a stream of consciousness, thereby helping anyone who reads The Land that Shivers to know what is running through the minds of characters in the story.
The third reason The Land that Shivers ranks high on the list is the premise of the story – the devastating effects of corruption and the resultant inequality in Nigeria. Nigeria is no doubt, rich and blessed with abundant resources and very diverse people. Sadly, those put in charge of managing these assets of Nigeria exploit them for their own personal enrichment. Corruption has become so endemic and deeply rooted in the Nigerian system that it is what we have come to be known for on the international scene. You cannot separate Nigeria from corruption; they are mentioned in the same breath. Our leaders have only one thing in mind, to enrich themselves with public funds, while the citizenry languish and die in want and deprivation, thus desperate measures are required to survive. Any hope for the future? I wish I could say yes, but time will tell.
Although a work of fiction, The Land that Shivers helps us to appreciate the stark reality of corrupt leadership, as obtainable in Nigeria. It is a very good read, and I definitely look forward to reading the author, Ebele Ufondu’s other works.
What more convincing do you need? Read The Land that Shivers here, now.