Book Title: Deafening Silence
Author: Stephanie Odili
Publishers: Amber Publishing Limited
Year of publication: 2018
Reviewer: Kunnu Adeniyi Taiwo
It is absolutely needful to begin this review from the external, thus, to delve into significance of the use of numbers would be considered apt as it supports the depth, as regards the meaning enunciated in this creative fiction.
First, the book is in three parts, which in turn lends credence to the order or cycle of “the Dead, the Living and the Unborn”. Furthermore, the 18 chapters are suggestive of arriving at the number of six, which is made possible by diving eighteen by three.
For those who understand the super-dimensions of figures, six is the number of man. Going forward, in 18 chapters and over 210 pages, the writer takes us through the exceptional evolution of a major character, whose female identity add unique hue, as she courses through stages of growth in her family and secular life, birthing before the readers’ eyes, peculiar innocence of a teenager, expected complexities of new knowledge, curiosity and reprimands, brazen confrontation of history, offences, forgiveness and the blunt mooting of the ugliness and beauties of our sexuality.
Incorporating the literary inclinations of Professor Adimora Ezeigbo as well as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the author Stephanie Odili dares where creative titans have trod, perhaps being the youngest as of now, to have embarked upon a touching and troubled theme as the digging for truths about Nigeria Civil War, The Biafra Dream and its many unattained realities.
Bringing the story to life, Adaugo is not allowed to talk about the Nigerian experience while living in London, but is made to return home to Nigeria and leverage the education as well as every advantageous support structure of being properly up-bred.
It is however important to posit, that London was where the seed of curiosity blossomed, it was while living in London that sparks of a dream got lit and the thread of historical yearning gets fed to seeming insatiable proportions.
Diana meets Adaugo and the Nigerian story begins from across the Atlantic before returning home. Seeds are planted in the heart of every child and these seeds germinate, making the lead character encounter the ups and downs of being nurtured to growth by her parents.
A mother who loves and disciplines, as well as a father whose love for his daughter does not for once shut out frankness and reprimands where necessary.
So, from the first to the ninth chapter, the central character grows into knowledgeable teenager, gradually assimilating the dos and don’ts of her parents, developing her sense of probity, perception, comprehension and psychological maturity which forms her manner of responding to issues.
Written in the first person narrative style and employing flashbacks, often to capture the past for the present, the author ensures that the crux of the work just does not get told on the city tops of Nigeria, but in the interiors of Abakpa in Enugu, South East Nigeria, by a living witness whose sacrifices and grace of a long life afford Adaugo the opportunity of fulfillment, and even the greater task of Saving her World.
If one reads the war documentary of Adewale Ademoyega Why We Struck as well as Alabi Isama’s The Tragedy of Victory, there seems to be an agreeable coercion to believe that the promptings of the war, not forgetting scale of suffering depicted at the height of the author’s descriptions, are indeed evident on near-similar scale in these factions.
This narrative fiction fuses the delicate plus the solid, further expressing reliance on the supersensible at crossroads, and of course recognizing the role of humans in the fulfillment of the human fate.
Needful are the life lessons from this beautiful work of fiction. We seem often afraid of both our past and the emerging present. In the instance of a child being curious or dares to dream, we are repulsed by such curiosity or frankly speaking, afraid of the inquests.
Although the manner of inquisition by the young ones may not be the best, guiding aright becomes important so that they are abreast with proper approach to making enquiry.
Further, the many unresolved problems of the Nigerian nation and how she is currently perceived pervade the pages. Is there any reason why history, particularly Nigerian history, is not taught in our schools?
We easily have access to history of wars fought in other countries and that have shaped their ever evolving civilizations, but the deliberate act of avoiding a unified and truthful history of Nigeria’s civil war is definitely the failure of every adult in this country.
Here again, the loud noise of Deafening Silence is heard, reverberating across high lands and vales, reminding each of us about our collusion in acts of commission and omission, asking us questions that must be answered, giving us reason to think, if truly we are ready to create a future from a past and present that is devoid of falsehood.
To Stephanie Odili, may your fingers remain friends with your writing tab
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