The Extinction of Menai

Chuma Nwokolo. Ohio Univ., $22.95 trade paper (424p) ISBN 978-0-8214-2298-4
Twins separated at birth discover their true identities and a spiritual leader pursues the ancestral homeland of his “dying nation” in this poignant, thrilling, and funny novel from Nwokolo (Diaries of a Dead African). Brothers Humphrey, a London writer, and Zanda, a journalist in Abuja, Nigeria, are Menai, descendants of a Nigerian tribe whose members were, in 1990, subjected by a pharmaceutical company to drug tests that killed thousands. By 2005, only a few dozen Menai remain, and their elderly shaman Mata sets out on a quest to find and be buried in their ancestral Saharan homeland. Meanwhile, a succession of hallucinations and blackouts reveal to both Humphrey and Zanda that they have been living double lives, unbeknownst even to themselves: Zanda has been operating as the anticorruption extremist Badu, while Humphrey lived as Izak for eight years on the Ivory Coast. Badu’s co-conspirators smuggle him to Cameroon; and Humphrey heads to Africa to rediscover his forgotten life. But Izak is wanted by the police, too, forcing Humphrey to flee to Lagos, only to be mistaken for his brother and arrested. Zanda is the only one who can clear his name, but he has to return to Nigeria first. The madcap twists and turns that ensue provide a joyful counterpoint to Mata’s somber odyssey, and Nwokolo manages to brilliantly distill his branching plot into a singular portrayal of a threatened culture. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/22/2018
Release date: 03/12/2018
Open Ebook - 384 pages - 978-0-8214-4620-1
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