Summary and book reviews of Love Is Power, or Something Like That by A. Igoni Barrett

Love Is Power, or Something Like That

Stories

By A. Igoni Barrett

Love Is Power, or Something Like That
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     Not Yet Rated
  • Paperback: May 2013,
    176 pages.

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Book Reviewed by:
Christian Tubau

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Book Summary

Vivid, powerful stories of contemporary Nigeria, from a talented young author.

When it comes to love, things are not always what they seem. In contemporary Lagos, a young boy may pose as a woman online, and a maid may be suspected of sleeping with her employer and yet still become a young wife's confidante. Men and women can be objects of fantasy, the subject of beery soliloquies. They can be trophies or status symbols. Or they can be overwhelming in their need.

In these wide-ranging stories, A. Igoni Barrett roams the streets with people from all stations of life. A man with acute halitosis navigates the chaos of the Lagos bus system. A minor policeman, full of the authority and corruption of his uniform, beats his wife. A family's fortunes fall from love and wealth to infidelity and poverty as poor choices unfurl over three generations. With humor and tenderness, Barrett introduces us to an utterly modern Nigeria, where desire is a means to an end, and love is a power as real as money.

"The Worst Thing That Happened"
from Love Is Power, or Something Like That

For the fourth time in almost as many years, Ma Bille had to go in for eye surgery, this time to have her cataracts removed. She was not afraid: at sixty-eight years of age she had been in and out of the operating room so many times that the antiseptic reek of hospital walls was as familiar to her as the smell of baby poop. The thing that worried her, that made her wake up this morning with her heart hammering in her ears, was the suspicion that she was all alone in a world that had seen the best years of her life.

While she waited for sensation to return to her legs, she ran her mind over the tasks for the day. Her domestic routine, established after her husband's death and perfected in the years since the last of her five children had left the house, was the cogwheel of her existence, the real reason to live. After the last operation she had shuffled around the house for five days with a blindfold ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse

It is not only in the description of these emotions, or in a realistic recreation of the historical context, where the reader finds the book's main virtue. The most impressive thing about Love Is Power is the writing itself; it is the almost obsessive attention to detail that, according to Vladimir Nabokov, distinguishes the talented writer from the others.   (Reviewed by Christian Tubau).

Full Review Members Only (1180 words).

Media Reviews
Publishers Weekly

While most of the nine stories ... have Nigeria as their backdrop, the emotional turbulence they capture should strike any reader as universal.

Booklist

Barrett's confident debut . . . offers vibrant tales of modern-day Nigeria. . . . [His] varied characters provide nuanced perspectives on love and kinship amid the chaos and reality of everyday life.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. Electrifying tales of vibrant urban nights and acrid, desperate days.

Bookslut

The nine short stories in A. Igoni Barrett's important Love Is Power, or Something Like That are excellent. . . . [Barrett] has a way of transforming suffering, and its handmaiden abjection, into a thorny kind of power.

Author Blurb Helon Habila, author of Oil on Water
A beautiful writer. In this collection A. Igoni Barrett captures both the quotidian and the elevated with a gaze that is as relentless as it is sympathetic. Here's a writer to watch.

Author Blurb Doreen Baingana, author of Tropical Fish
Here is a singular voice in African writing: urbane, unapologetic, as harsh as the truth, as tender as love, an old subject that A. Igoni Barrett refreshes by beaming the searing and precise light of his language into the darkest corners of its territory. A masterful accomplishment.

Author Blurb Michela Wrong, author of It's Our Turn to Eat: The Story of a Kenyan Whistleblower
A. Igoni Barrett has a big heart. His portrait of modern-day Nigeria, like the country itself, is a bewitching juxtaposition of the grotesque and uplifting, rotten and humane. He makes us wince in sympathy for his characters, struggling to give their lives meaning in the toughest of cities, even while - in many of these stories - we fervently hope never to cross paths with them.

Reader Reviews
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A Novel Model for Mass Transit in Lagos, Nigeria

Lagos' Bus Rapid Transit system (BRT) provides the backdrop to "My Smelling Mouth Problem", one of the stories in Igoni Barrett's collection Love is Power, or Something Like That.

In the past decade, the population of Nigeria has grown from around 100 million to about 180 million. If this growth continues, Nigeria will be home to around 300 million people in 2040 - all living in a space roughly double the size of California. The coastal city of Lagos is not only Nigeria's largest port, it is also the country's economic and financial hub, with a population of over 8 million and growing.

Fast population growth, combined with a lack of planning and management, left Lagos with an unreliable public transportation system far too small to ...

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