My bibliophilic thirst took me to a bookshop in Abuja this morning. I went to buy a book that I once bought last year – ‘Akiga’s Story’, a book about the history of the Tiv people. I wanted to send it to someone as a gift. However, I found that it was out of stock, and I ended up buying four others:
1. ‘Fate of a Cockroach and Other Plays’ – by Tewfik Alhakim, the most famous playwright in Egypt and the Arab World. The book, which contains four plays, is a translation by Denys Johnson-Davies, the man who introduced some of the famous Arab writers (e.g. Tayeb Salih and Sonallah Ibrahim, whose works I read in the past) to the English-speaking world by means of translation. ‘Fate of the Cockroach’, which featured in the famous African Writers Series, was published in 1973.
2. ‘Sunshine and Waterfall’ – a poetry collection by Halima M. Usman. The author, who hails from Gombe State and is a member of ANA in Abuja, is a PhD candidate. This is her first poetry collection. Curiously, it contains no name of publisher or publication date.
3. ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ – by Gabriel García Márquez, the Colombian writer who won the 1982 Nobel Prize in Literature. This book, which was translated from the Spanish by Gregory Rabassa and published in 1967, is one of the most famous literary works of all time. The New York Times once recommended that it “should be required reading for the entire human race”, while Salman Rushdie described it as “the greatest novel in any language of the last fifty years”. Márquez, who died in 2014 at the age of 87, was described by Bill Clinton as “the most important writer of fiction in any language.” No wonder, I bought the book today even though I already have another copy of it in my library!
4. ‘Jack: Straight from the Gut’ – by Jack Welch. Some of you will remember Mr. Welch as the Chairman and CEO of General Electric (GE), one of the oldest and biggest multinational corporations in America and the entire world. In this book, published in 2001, he recounts the way he successfully ran the conglomerate through teamwork style of leadership between 1981 and 2001. So impactful was his tenure on the fortunes of the company that, according to Wikipedia, when he retired from GE he received a severance payment of $417 million, the largest such payment in business history up to that point. I had been seeing this book in bookstores and skipping it, but today I told myself that it should finally follow me home. And it did.
Apparently, this little treasure trove has a finger in four unique genres of writing, i.e. fiction, drama, poetry and autobiography. It is obvious I am going to have an interesting reading marathon after the Ramadan fasting, in-sha Allah. I intend to finish reading these books within a month after the Eid el-Fitr celebration. I can’t wait!
* Mr. Sheme is a writer based in Abuja
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