20 May A read through Obioma’s ‘Orchestra of Minorities’ by Nathaniel Bivan
Title: An Orchestra of Minorities
Author: Chigozie Obioma
Publisher: Parresia Publishers
Reviewer: Nathaniel Bivan
When Chigozie Obioma’s debut novel, ‘The Fishermen’, was published in 2015, it came with a bang. It was shortlisted for one of the world’s most prestigious prizes, the Man Booker Prize, among several others, and a reviewer, Fiammetta Rocco, described Obioma as “the heir to Chinua Achebe” in the New York Times. So, understandably, even before his second novel, ‘An Orchestra of Minorities’ hit the shelves on January 8 this year, there was some buzz.
In 2016, Obioma’s article ‘The Ghosts of My Student Years in Northern Cyprus’ published in The Guardian UK, turned out to be very revealing of his experiences. When he arrived at Cyprus International University, he found out that many Nigerian students had been duped into enrolling. And for some, that was only the beginning of their troubles, he wrote. Jay, one of those who had been swindled, used to be gainfully employed in Berlin, Germany. But everything changed for him when his papers were confiscated and he was deported to Nigeria. So, when he was provided with the opportunity of returning abroad by agents, it wasn’t hard for them to convince him. To cut a long story short, everything he was told about the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus turned out to be a lie, and depressed he ended up dying a tragic death.
Another man, who was said maybe a Nigerian, wandered Cyprus on foot in the same worn clothes and shoes. He had grown to be famous and no one knew where he really came from or how he survived. These were the experiences Obioma drew from while working on his latest book. Set in Nigeria and Northern Cyprus, ‘An Orchestra of Minorities’ tells the story of Chinonso, a poultry farmer who falls in love with Ndali who comes from a wealthy family. The two lovers first met in a very unusual manner, when Ndali stands with despair on top of a bridge and appears to contemplate suicide. Chinonso, in order to convince her not to jump, throws two of his prized birds over the bridge to demonstrate the severity of what she was about to do. This sets off a relationship that will see Chinonso shamed by Ndali’s family because he only has a secondary school education. Eventually, resolute that getting a degree is what will win her family over, he learns of Cyprus through an old school friend and is soon on his way to school there. Everything seems smooth and happens fast and it appears like nothing can go wrong. But this is where everything goes wrong. Overseas, Chinonso learns that his friend has swindled him and he’s stranded in Cyprus.
What is probably most thrilling about this story is the voice that tells it. Hinged on Igbo cosmology, Chinonso’s guardian spirit, known as his chi, narrates the experiences…
Read more: https://www.dailytrust.com.ng/a-read-through-obiomas-orchestra-of-minorities.html