Leye Adenle’s debut novel, Easy Motion Tourist, a fast paced detective novel set entirely in the city of Lagos, is about a British parachute journalist on the trail of electoral fraud in newly-democratic Nigeria.
Though it sometimes reads like a Lonely Planet Guide to the City, Leye Adenle’s fictional universe populated by undercover policemen, street thugs and venal businessmen is about as close as you’re ever going to get to the putrid underbelly of Lagos, that beast with twenty million heads.
The plot is tight and seamless on this romance with the mean streets of Gidi, and Mr. Adenle’s lean, gritty prose conjures the shade of Cyprian Ekwensi, one of the pioneers of Nigerian literature and the master chronicler of Lagos in the sixties. Employing an unusual combination of first and third-person character-narratives, the tale rolls on a steep ramp of suspense as we follow news hack Guy Collins and his exotic Nigerian girlfriend from the gory crime scene, through various clubhouses, hotels and the posh homes of elite Victoria Island to a carnival of gunplay and homicide on the streets of night-time Lagos.
The obligatory romance element lacked adequate charge though, and the sparks hardly flew for the protagonist, who, by the way, exhibited a surprisingly benign take on Nigerian society, for a first time European visitor, that is. There wasn’t a hint of the racial prejudice and machismo that typifies the white, male expatriate on his forays into the cities and jungles of the third world.
Mr. Adenle’s street cred is well established alongside his remarkable talent. Connoisseurs of Lagos nightlife will experience a jolt of nostalgia from his yarn, as well as Island potheads, some of whom might actually have made the acquaintance of a certain Catchfire, during his glory days as chairman of the weed sellers association on the defunct Kuramo beach on Victoria Island. Life oftentimes imitates art, or so the saying goes.
Leye Adenle has always been a promising writer, right from his stint incognito on www.wazobiareport.com.
These days, he mostly represents the new breed of Nigerian novelists whose literary feet are mired in exoticism as they straddle the economic gulf between life in the Diaspora and life in the motherland.
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