It’s Friday – this means an opportunity to ‘turn up’. For some of us turning up really means a good book and a
bottle glass of white wine.
As is our weekly routine, a book review goes up today and I am sharing my thoughts on a book I started at the beginning of the week, Toni Kan’s ‘Nights Of The Creaking Bed’. Hopefully you enjoy it as much as I did while also finding new parts of the book that I didn’t.
If you missed last week’s review of Lola Shoneyin’s ‘The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives’ check it out here, and if you have suggestions on books you’d love to see reviewed drop a comment or send a mail to [email protected]
Naturally I am not a lover of anything short stories simply because it is too short – just as you are getting into the story it finishes and I always feel unfinished. But I was drawn to Toni Kan’s book because I am often interested in African authors who attempt to explore sexuality and/or morality. This is evident in the title and cover of the book so I had a curios first impression.
‘Nights of the Creaking Bed’ is full of colourful characters involved in affecting dramas: a girl who is rejected in love because she has three brothers to look after; 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 out of his 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, the irresponsible attitudes of some men to their offspring and the importance of joy are some of the big themes that underlie this memorable collection. [Cassava Republic]
Toni Kan has quite the rap sheet of being a Nigerian author, editor, public relations executive and teacher. Born 11 June 1971, he is most popular for his collection of short stories, ‘Nights of a Creaking Bed’ published by Cassava Republic. He studied English Literature at the University of Jos and an M.A in English (Literature) at the University of Lagos in 1999, graduating at the top of his class. He became a magazine editor at 26.
Review – Spoiler Alert!!
‘Nights of the Creaking Bed’ is a book that predominantly has the theme of sexuality. The first few short stories cement your expectations so there is a lot of predictability, however the author is able to touch on subjects that are very uncommon and other authors have shied away from. From infidelity, deceit, pre-marital sex, sexual decadence and more, the author swings his pen and comfortably explores moral ills that society only whispers. It is a bold move and applaudable.
Just when you start to get comfortable with the recurring themes of sex, Toni Kan throws in religion to unbalance you.
I read ‘Broda Sonnie’ a few hours after the Yobe State massacre by Boko Haram of 43 sleeping students (find the details here and here) so I was really particularly affected and uncomfortable with that story. I found myself in this position a few more times, shying away from paragraphs I thought would be frowned upon or brushed away by society. On a second read however I greatly appreciated his approach and flow of thoughts. Toni Kan was telling taboo stories that excited me.
I find myself agreeing with Joseph Omotayo’s words when he reviews the book as follows “Night of the Creaking Bed flings what you are always hypocritically ashamed and timid to say in public in your face before you are through reading its first page. Nights of the Creaking Bed is Toni Kan’s tireless skilled effort at bringing to discourse what is stereotyped to be an all bed-room affair; ditto the lewd words and statements that we can easily identify and evaluate are used to pass the messages in the book across. As erotic as Nights of the Creaking Bed is, it still does so much with its literary effort at not only regurgitating the affairs that are normally associated with Poverty, Underdevelopment, Immorality, Third-World Superstition, Religion and Extremism; but also narrating the stories as if they are thoughts running in your mind.”
It is natural that sex, power, religion, society, love, money are intertwined, and with his 14 stories Toni Kan completely devours each and every one of these themes. The dominance of death in a lot of the stories is however unnerving, must the stories all come to a similar sinister end or is that just his signature style? I am not completely familiar with Toni Kan’s works so I need an answer for this.
What I Liked About The Book
I especially like how easy it was to move from one story to another because in someway they were similar. I also like the way I was actually able to see lives through the different characters regardless of tribe, educational qualification, religion or financial stand. In those 14 stories I was Ahmed, Paul, Sonnie, Andrew, Risika, Sylvia and more. I was the conductor, the religious extremist, the decadent mother, the absent father, the unfaithful wife – the book was a total immersion.
Have you read the book, let us know your thoughts! Buy ‘Nights of the Creaking Bed’ Here and Here.