Nigeria as a subject matter is inexhaustible and forms part of our daily ritual. Loving Gladys is an anthology of poetry and short stories that conveys everyday Nigerian subject matters. It takes the reader on a ride through the streets of the Nigerian reality, and with good use of imagery, it exposes the circumstances that characterise daily existence. When one asks questions like, what is your reality? What is our reality? What is the Nigerian reality? Loving Gladys does a fine job in articulating all prevalently held truths.
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Author of this book, Ibiene Bidiaque, in a very much relatable manner, brings to fore the everyday yearnings of the Nigerian citizen, and creatively captures the failings of what is thought to be the giant among her peers, in her poems. As one who is passionate about Nigeria, all her passion is experienced in this book.
With perfect use of the second person narrative, Onimisi is scrutinized by a rejected lover, who for long took out chunks of her skin because she blames herself for her failed relationship. Self-worth is an essential theme in this story, as the narrator struggles with this, throughout. However, she asks herself a vital question:
If she had not died, would you be having this conversation?
Furthermore, the reader is held spellbound as he follows Dike’s eccentric and non-conformist journey to secure Gladys’ love. Here, age and love stand side by side, while having the individual comes face to face with societal norms and culture.
Folarin is in a state of ambivalence, as he is torn between hating and loving Adebimpe at the same time. Could this be because she has attained the height that he could only dream of? Find out.
The last short story in this collection is typical if cunny man die, cunny man go bury am situation. Also, the reader notices the Benson motif which is evidently and beautifully portrayed.
Ibiene shows the reader how politically and socially conscious she is with satirical poems. Her poems tell it like it is. They tell us who we are supposed to be, who we are, what we are supposed to be doing, and what we are doing. Nigerian Prayer is a mirror image of ourselves and the contraption called Nigeria. In a frenzy of all forms of imagery, it is a summation of our daily lives within a few pages. Nigerian Prayer points out and ridicules the ills of our society.
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The first stanza of Tribe says it all about our tribal relationship in Nigeria.
I am tar
I am enemy
I am not enough
We all want to get to the top at the same time, we want to seize it all at the same time, own it all at the same time, we are our own enemies at the same time, and we are better than ourselves at the same time. No one is patient enough to tolerate the other. Paranoia takes up the space of hope. We are foreigners in our own land.
Again, in How Do You Spell Nigeria, she uses great humour to put forth the alphabetical breakdown of Nigeria. In this expertly crafted process, I is really for I underestimated Boko Haram. Finally, Too Late gives us a photocopied recitation of our daily routine.
Loving Gladys is a book written for all. The diction style is simple and straight forward making it is easy to read and to grasp. The characteristic usage of all forms of imagery and humour gives Loving Gladys a rich outlook.
Nigeria as a theme is properly encapsulated in this book. Loving Gladys is basically proselytisation to all citizens to turn on their human sides. Touching virtually every aspect of life and living in Nigeria makes this book highly recommended to all.
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