…An intriguing insight into the lottery of life and lust in Lagos…

The Blurb

Nights of the Creaking Bed is full of colourful characters involved in affecting dramas: a middle-aged housewife who finds love again but has an impossible decision to make; a young man who can’t get the image of his naked, beautiful mother of this mind; a child so poor he has to hawk onions on Christmas day – and many others. Some, initially full of hope, find their lives blighted by the cruelty of others, or by being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or by just not knowing the ‘right’ people.

Corruption, religious intolerance, gratuitous violence, and the importance of joy are some of the big themes that underline this memorable collection.

Category: Fiction

Publisher: Cassava Republic

Published: 2019

Pages: 157

Review – ★★★★ (4 stars)

When members of my book club decided we re-read Nights of a Creaking Bed, I was so excited. It was a selected read by the book club in 2017. However, I couldn’t read with them because I was in Law school. With this new edition, two new stories were added – Strangers and The Harbinger. This new edition contains 15 short stories in total.

The stories in this collection flow with sadness and strange humour. Love and cruelty are easily interchanged and this brings to mind the complex nature of human beings.

In Strangers, you are reminded of the ALUU4 Lynching. ALUU4 Lynching involved the killing of four young men who were falsely accused of theft in Aluu, Rivers State, Portharcourt. This terrible incident happened on the 5th of October 2012. Strangers was first published in Saraba Magazine in 2013.

The fire was hungry. Licking at them, blinding them, mixing flesh and textile in an ugly alchemy. – Pg. 11

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I particularly enjoyed reading My Perfect Life as I was forced to ask myself one question; How much do I love the sound of my own laughter?

The religious intolerance in Broda Sonnie made me sigh. How long are we going to keep debating this issue in Nigeria? How many more lives are going to be cut short because of our inability to tolerate differences.

Justina is dead now. She was killed when Muslims attacked Christians in Jos. They said she was pregnant when she was killed and that the attackers stopped the car, beheaded her driver, ripped her stomach open and kicked the foetus around like a football. – Pg. 119

If we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity – John F. Kennedy {Commencement Address at American University, June 10 1963}

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Lagos remains a central theme in all of these stories. In The Devil’s Overtime, Toni Kan writes;

Lagos was madness. Watching the crowds, the innumerable people stuck in what I supposed was perpetual motion, almost made me dizzy. Looking at the people in Lagos was like looking into a gigantic whirlwind, but instead of bits of rubbish, what we had inside was an eddy of human beings. – Pg 117

Toni Kan mentioned at the hangout with members of my book club that, The Devil’s Overtime will be the foundation of his next novel. Looking forward to it!

In Ahmed, a young boy dreams of seeing the big city – LAGOS! In page 92, his brother said to him;

‘They say, “See Lagos and die.”‘

‘Will I die?’ Ahmed asked, alarm furrowing his brows.

‘No. They say that because, after you’ve been to Lagos, there is nothing more to see,’ Isa explained.

Purchase a copy from Kawe Books to know if Ahmed died or survived the city of Lagos.

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Toni Kan and I at Kawe Africa’s End of Year Book Party!

This collection explores the anxieties and fears that come with living in Lagos – Unplanned robbery, scary deaths, crazy incidents, and genuine shock.

God is Listening remains the saddest story and I hate that I read it. The Echo of Silence made so anxious, I had to read the last paragraph to find my bearing. There is also a constant theme of death and gory scenes in most of the short stories. And I believe the author wanted to question the way we talk about death. Death, Toni Kan believes, is our ultimate destination and writers should be comfortable to write about death and explore the aftermath or whatever comes with it.

I enjoyed reading Nights of the Creaking Bed and I highly recommend it. In the words of Sefi Atta; Beginning with deliberate brevity and ending on a note of lush lyricism, these fascinating vignettes of Lagos life showcase an array of peripatetic characters who are hopelessly stuck in their dilemmas.

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Toni Kan with members of Kawe Africa Book Club

tonikan

 

Toni Kan is an award-winning poet, essayist, and short-story writer. He is one of Nigeria’s most anthologised young poets and short story writers. Author of the critically acclaimed poetry collection When a Dream Lingers Too Long and the novella Ballad of Rage, his works have appeared in Salthill, Drum Voices, Revue, Farafina, Sentinel Poetry Quarterly and ANA Review.

 

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  • Pascal Izuchukwu

    Nice review, Adriel. You described the stories so well.

    Toni Kan writes in a way that is moving and hard to describe. His stories always end in a surprisingly bleak way. I like how he is able to describe the human condition and how we deal with expectations, anger, love, pain and a horde of other emotions.

    I doubt there is any theme too hard for him to write about. The story of Ahmed really shocked me. After so much expectations, he reached the promised land and suddenly died. I never saw that coming. It reminded me of a movie I once saw: a soldier was so thirsty for batter but never shot a bullet because he slipped and died some minutes before the battle.

    How about the story of the woman who left her family for a “perfect” life? I love all the stories!!!

    • Adriel Onwukwe

      Thank you so much for your comment Pascal! I loved the “perfect life” story! It was bold and daring! Rooting for Toni Kan and can’t wait to read more stories from him!