When I read And After Many Days by Jowhor Ile, Leye Adenle’s Easy Motion Tourist was actually next on my reading list. However, curiosity made me ditch that plan last minute for And After Many Days. And After Many Days by Jowhor Ile had just achieved the remarkable feat of winning the 2017 Etisalat Prize For Literature at that time. Before then, since the 2014 inception of the award, no Nigerian novel had won the prize. As such, I was eager to discover what made the novel deserving of the highly coveted literary award. It goes without saying that I had high expectations as I settled to read this one, justifiably so.
And After Many Days is set in 1995 Nigeria, Port Harcourt precisely. The novel tells a story of family, love, loss, grief, political rot, amongst others. The novel starts off on a very high note, instantly igniting suspense in the reader. In an unexpected turn of events, the lives of the Utus, a thriving middle-class family, is thrown into disarray. On the fateful day, characteristic of him, Paul Utu, the first son of the family, goes to visit a friend. Worry and panic begins when night falls and, uncharacteristic of Paul, he doesn’t show up. Following Paul’s mysterious disappearance, hours turn into days, days turn into weeks, weeks into months, and months, years. Right off the bat, I was drawn into the world of the novel, feeling empathy for the Utus as they went from shock, denial, anger, depression, and then quiet.
Starting off on such a gripping note, I was beyond convinced I was in for a thrilling reading experience. But that turned out not being the case. Following the inciting incident, the novel keeps pace for a few more chapters before veering off course completely. It, instead, delves into extensive back stories that do nothing – they barely even attempt – to unravel the mystery at hand. The focus shifts from Paul’s unsolved disappearance to a recollection of the family’s happy days as a unit. A couple political issues are also touched on in the process. Consequently, the novel loses momentum and fails to sustain the tension and suspense it had built-up up to that point. The memory of Paul’s disappearance soon begins to fade from the reader’s mind. And, unsurprisingly, the longer the back stories run, the fainter the memory of Paul becomes.
With focus taken off the initial plotline, the novel’s pacing slows to a frustratingly slow pace. It began to meander, feeling as though the novel wasn’t headed anywhere, at least, not anywhere near where what the first 3/4 chapter promised readers.
It isn’t all a downward descent, however. The novel does excel on many other levels, notably, its beautiful use of language, humor, and vivid imagery. But for those, I probably would have stopped reading halfway. Also, the characters were very fun and relatable, particularly Bibi and Ajie. More than a love for books, it took conscious effort on my part to finish this novel.
Book Title: And After Many Days
Author: Jowhor Ile
Published By: Tim Duggan Books
Release Date: 2016
Have you read And After Many Days by Jowhor Ile? If yes, what are your thoughts about the novel? Please, let me know in the comments section below.
And remember to always…
Live. Love. Laugh.