And After Many days is the whimsical story of the Utu family in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. One morning Paul, the eldest sibling in the Utu family, goes missing. His disappearance deeply changes the once lively, somewhat comical family. Jowhor Ile moves freely throughout time, gently building a picture of his characters and their relationships. Ile skillfully addresses the political climate of Nigeria in the mid-1990's while exploring the personal ramifications of corruption on the Utu family.

The Good

I usually don't enjoy stories that jump back and forth in time but it was somewhat fitting for the voice of the novel. Ajie, the youngest sibling, seems like the type of overexcited child to ramble off details of a story. The way Ajie thinks, his brash behaviour and sharp tongue were really entertaining. Without being too confusing or nonsensical, And After Many Days moves freely from one memory to another, enabling Ile to take his time in introducing his characters. And I think that is what makes Jowhor a strong writer, his patience in writing. There is an easy pace in the writing with slight detours in the plot that seem to be taken just because they can. He makes the reader wait (arguably a little too long) to gain a fuller picture of what is going on. As an admittedly impatient person, I can say I appreciated the lesson in patience this novel provided.

The feeling of nostalgia was heavy in each chapter of this novel. I haven't been to Nigeria in almost 7 years and I have been itching to go back for a while. And After Many Days doubly increased my desire to go. There are no rose-coloured glasses directed towards Nigeria in this book. Corruption, greed, laziness and the many other vices that plague the nation are discussed with uncompromising candor. However, the simplicity of life in the village, the craziness of being surrounded by family and friends, and the strength of the suffering and smiling mentality were beautifully communicated.

 The Not So Good 

The description of the novel duped me in to thinking I had picked up an intense political drama/mystery where I would be gripped by the highs and lows of Paul's disappearance. But, Paul's disappearance seemed a bit unnecessary as it was only really discussed in the beginning and the end of the book. The intensity that I was expecting was also lacking. The slow pace of the novel didn't quite match the weight of the political situation in Nigeria during that time period. I enjoyed reading the novel but I wasn't gripped or truly fascinated. I put it down for a few days at a time and was only reminded to read it when I saw it on my desk. Because my expectations were so different from reality it made me slightly more disappointed.

Jowhor Ile is without a doubt a talented writer. His novel is beautifully written and at times downright charming. Yet something was lacking. There was no spark, nothing to truly hook the reader. For those reasons, I give And After Many Days a 3/5.

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Published by Born-Again Hooligan