For this review I choose not to call El-Nukoya’s work a novel; there is nothing novel about it (after taking into cognizance the fact that literally speaking novel means a new story), tales like this have been told before, but this is…….
Novelist and critic William Dean Howells expressed in theory and practise of philosophy that ‘literary art ought to mirror the facts of human life’, the author of Nine Lives followed the above statement to the latter and mirrored the facts of Nigerian life, well. Beautifully crafted, Nine Lives is a simple tale about an ordinary youth who achieved extraordinary success after wading through the murky waters of life.
Olupitan Ogunrinu a village boy, son of a fisherman rose through the limitations of poverty to the pinnacle of wealth. Several experiences prepare him for the journey that would shape his life; Debo his bossom friend, Tolani Badmus his heart-throb, Kenneth his initiator to cultism, Dudu-Admiral the master and Babatunde Aleshinloye his arch rival.
In university he feels his rich colleagues ooze discrimination toward poor him, here our protagonist had an option (he should have made friends with his own ilk) but Olupitan Ogunrinu is not cut out for mediocrity.
Romance with Tolani Badmus a silver spoon chic, made him lose focus, he forgot the son of who he was. The shocking revelation of a clandestine affair between his belle and his rich colleague Babatunde Aleshilonye revived him.
His secret fears caught up with him, anger and failure beset him. He found rest in the bossom of cultism which he had eluded before.
Cultism stole any opportunities he might have had with education. The black scorpion’s descend on him; escape is the only viable option.
His grandfather’s Aiyelala was the source of his needed resources to take him in search of a golden fleece, he found it after being a cab driver, corpse washer, a married man and a widower. The deciding moment for Pitan was beating Aretha (his employer’s wife) at her own game.
Back to Nigeria, he invested his ill gotten wealth (not really?) in the Nigerian Economy it netted him a windfall.
Wealth brought the desire to bring down Aleshinloye his old adversary, Debo his bossom friend is the pawn he uses to get at him. Defeat sends Aleshinloye to Dudu, who is eager to take out Pitan.
A happy ending with Tolani is the climax.
With a pleasing flow El-Nukoya served us a dose of exceptional prose, for a 490 page book it was too short. Many twists and turns but all befitting, description and dialogue were balanced, excellent editing. The writing was streamlined and said exactly what the author intended.
Sixteen years after the author started writing, he finished his first book, Nine Lives is an attestation to the fact that it was time well spent.
Nine Lives is a story any one can relate to, I am sure a lot of people have heard it before but it was not told this way.