Monday, May 26, 2014

Book Review - The Land of Honey By Chinenye Obiajulu

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I was quite motivated to get into 'The of Land of Honey' by Chinenye Obiajulu after reading from the blurb that it was about the life of recent Nigerian immigrants to Canada, since I haven't come across much writing about this. And it turned out to be a very enjoyable read.

When I choose the books I read, I like to take in the experiences of people from different backgrounds who live in different countries under differing circumstances. This means that when I come across writing that deals with an experience that I don't see often in print, then I am especially keen to read it - even (and probably, especially) if I am familiar with the experience.

There were two things in particular I liked about the book. The first was that it was very realistic. Zimako and Anuli, the two main characters were painted neither as perfect angels or demons; instead, they were shown to be very fallible human beings whose flaws were magnified as they came to grips with the very tough situation they had to deal with abroad.

This also held true for the portrayals of the people and the situations that the couple encountered. Seeing a mix of the good and the bad, the happy and the sad times made their experiences much more three-dimensional to me. Then, having also gone through the experience of being a recent immigrant in a Western country, a lot of what I read felt very familiar, and that resonated with me.

The second thing I liked was the depth in which many of the characters were described. The author could have just concentrated on the couple and sketched out the other characters as cardboard cut-outs, but she spent time showing us the playfulness of Zimako's brother and the romance of Anuli's friend. And the time she spent painting a detailed picture of Zimako and Anuli, both as individuals and as a loving couple who were going through hard times made me want to cheer for them and find out whether their relationship would survive.

I liked that the author did a good job of describing life in Nigeria prior to the couple's immigration, although I personally felt that since the book was about the immigrant experience, I would have preferred to see less of this in the book, and more of their life in Canada.

I also felt that in between chapters, there were jumps that missed out important events that I would have liked to have been described in more detail. But these didn't really detract from my overall enjoyment of the book, and I would certainly recommend it to anyone who wants an engaging portait of the new life of a Nigerian in the diaspora.


Disclosure - RML received a free copy of this book for review.


About the Book

The Land of Honey By Chinenye Obiajulu

A near-miss armed robbery attack by night makes Zimako decide enough is enough. Even though he and Anuli, his wife, are successful professionals in Nigeria, they abandon the familiar for safer shores in Edmonton, Canada. The trials of settling down in their new life set their values and plans askew as they make compromises that may be their “Waterloo.”

Anuli is a twenty-eight-year-old finance executive; she is unstoppable when she puts her mind to a task. Ambitious and single-minded, she is at heart an endearingly traditional woman who trusts her husband to make the big decisions. She is from a close-knit family and is the apple of her father’s eye. She is one of those women who is beautiful and appears to have it all. You want to hate her, yet you are irresistibly drawn to her.

Zimako is a thirty-six-year-old IT engineer with a successful career, currently working with a privately owned construction firm that had headhunted him from a multinational conglomerate corporation. He defines himself by his success and sets high goals for himself. In Nigeria, he is well respected in his field. His father is a traditional African chief, and Zimako believes the mark of success is being the protector and breadwinner for his family.

Anuli and Zimako have always been the couple to watch. At their traditional wedding, he promised to cherish her and she vowed to submit to him and nurture him. The passion between them sizzles, and they can’t keep their hands off each other. They love each other almost as much as they love God and agree on almost everything such that they seem to be telepathic. But loving is easy when the going is good. When challenges arise, can they overcome the uphill obstacles to triumph?

When life in Canada throws curveballs their way, their coping mechanisms differ dramatically. Anuli takes a never-say-die approach, and shows herself willing to retrain to gain the qualifications that may get her a foot in the door. Admirably, she takes on a job as a data entry clerk to help her understand life in the Canadian workplace and earn an income to buffer their dwindling finances. Zimako rigidly stays true to the plans they made in Nigeria to find jobs related to their professions and resents Anuli’s flexibility, seeing it as an affront to his role as head of the family.

Anuli builds a network of dependable friends, and Ryan, a classmate of hers, becomes attracted to her beauty and unassuming intelligence. He is a shoulder to cry on when things at home begin to unravel, and Anuli is tempted by his generous, affable, and amorous advances, especially when he makes her an offer that’s hard to resist. In his frustration, Zimako takes to debauchery and finds succour in Kelly, the temptress, who is his ultimate downfall.

When the couple leaves Nigeria, Canada seems so full of promise; it is going to be the land of milk and honey. But the reality is different. The subtle racism, the hope of jobs that don’t materialise, the smoke and mirrors to stop friends and family at home from worrying, and the financial strain take its toll on our golden couple. They begin to argue, they stop communicating, and the passion between them fizzles out, and Zimako dumps Anuli.

Anuli shows strength of character as she applies herself at work, excels in school, maintains her network of friends, and soldiers on, hoping against all odds that fortune will soon smile at her. Just when she thinks her luck is about to change, she begins to experience dizzy spells and exhaustion. A visit to the doctor reveals a life-changing diagnosis that causes her to reassess her life. Zimako is at a turning point in his own life. But Anuli’s life has moved on…what happens to Anuli and Zimako is anyone’s guess.

Find out!

Buy on Amazon - The Land of Honey

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