By Ibiye Alalibo
Fine Boys by Eghosa Imasuen has been described as “a coming of age story”, many readers can easily relate to the book. For the younger generation, the story isn’t far-fetched and for the original “wounded generation” it brings back feelings of nostalgia.
Eghosa Imasuen was guest author at the Rainbow Book Club reading which held on Sunday, February 25 at Le Meridien Hotel Port Harcourt. The man, who trained as a medical doctor, writes deftly makes use of Pidgin English and renders a gripping account of his narrative, with every new page promising more adventurous escapades from his characters.
Fine Boys alludes to the decadence of governance, to the derelict university structures, and the menace of increasing violence associated with confraternities on campus. This story is set at a time when Nigeria was struggling under the stigma of a pariah nation after the annulment of the June 12, 1993 elections, the execution of Human Rights activist Ken Saro-Wiwa and his men and the ensuing uproar from the international community. The book aptly captures the scenario: “There was the junta and the gap-toothed Maradonna, trying to keep the peace on campus, with the presence of the military when in fact the country was in turmoil.”
Ewaen and his oyinbo friend, Wilhelm, get into the university a year after they are supposed to due to the incessant staff union strikes. They get acquainted with Tuoyo, Ejiro, Odegua, KO, Tambo, in room A109 and share the pressure to blend into one of the campus confraternities as “Fine Boys”. The author sums up the Nigerian university in these words, “This was not a university. It was a jungle. We were all jungle rats huddled around a candle, watching it flicker and burn out slowly.”
At the Rainbow Book Club reading, Dr Imasuen read an excerpt alluding to first loves from the novel. Someone asked, after the reading, why one of the characters had to die at the end of the novel. The author’s reply: we tend to shield ourselves from tragedy but life is full of them and sometimes they are the drastic consequences of trivial decisions we make as in the story.
The participants at the event were effusive in their commendation of the book. Some even suggested that it be made compulsory reading for all university undergraduates because of the embedded key lessons for social development of youths.
Dr Imasuen then informed the audience that the University of Benin has already adopted the book for their English and Contemporary Studies Department and the publisher, Farafina, is working on an abridged version to make the book suitable for younger readers.
He later shared three techniques writers make use of in their craft. These, he identified as experience, research and imagination. He urged aspiring writers them to read widely, study, listen to people, and most importantly write with a healthy dose of inferiority complex.
The book reading ended with a book signing and photography session with the author. There was also an announcement of the Rainbow Book Club’s March reading which will be a celebration of poetry to mark the World Poetry Day on March 21.
• Alalibo writes from Port Harcourt