E.C. Osondu’s This House is Not For Sale: A Review
I just finished reading E.C. Osondu’s This House is Not for Sale
and also had the distinct honor of meeting the remarkable author this week when he was in town for a reading of his latest oeuvre alongside another distinguished author – Chigozie Obioma (whose intriguing novel, The Fishermen
, is next on my reading list). Mr. Osondu has the uncanny gift of creating characters that serve to deliver the stellar work of prose that he provides. This is the case in This House is Not For Sale
, where we are introduced to a patchwork of colorful characters who all reside in the infamous Family House – a residence whose dubious reputation in the neighborhood is on par with the patriarch of the family that it belongs to: Grandpa. In Grandpa, you find the quintessential African patriarch who wields his power without any qualms irrespective of the consequences. Underneath the blatant chicanery, you see the empathic side of this heavy handed father figure as he admonishes his son for having the temerity to request that his mistress move into the Family House, a move that is guaranteed to humiliate his foreign born wife who has left all she knows to come and live with him in a country whose culture is clearly different from her own.
Throughout the novel, I found myself discovering characters that could have been my friends or members of my family: when you meet Ibe, the stubborn cousin whose daredevil adventures lead to an illness that nearly cost him his life, he becomes a part of you to the point that you are sighing for relief when he gets better; you are astonished at Ndozo’s shabby treatment and long for some sort of resolution for her; and then you rejoice when Trudy is triumphant in winning back her husband and discarding the label of the long-suffering wife, leading to a turnaround in her life.
Although the House (which almost seems like a life form at times) and Grandpa are the central points which bring all of the characters together, it is the unseen and nameless characters whose whispered criticisms of the lives of the protagonists, provide a deep insight into how flawed we can be as human beings. As one character declares: “You can’t please everyone”. This House is Not for Sale serves as an illustration of how the typical extended family consists of somewhat ordinary people but whose stories can take on extraordinary dimensions that shape the way we journey through life.
During Monday’s book reading, I boldly requested that Mr. Osondu pronounce the name of one of the characters which was shortened to Ibe and he graciously obliged:
EC Osondu at Busboys and Poets: April 20, 2015 from Jola Naibi on Vimeo.