On Farad by Ada Agada

A short review of Farad by Ada Agada on the Facebook page of the Association of Nigerian Authors (Benue State Chapter)

EMMANUEL IDUMA, A PRODIGY?

Farad is a novel or rather a collection of episodic stories weaved into an organ by a common encompassing environment, the stiff university environment of OAU Ife. The novel is a surrealist experiment with characters floating about in their “intangibility”, active only in their conscious processes. The flow of their thoughts is bedevilled by irrationality, meaninglessness, and hopelessness. We can read Farad as a novel of idea if not as a philosophical novel. The influence of Sartre’s sombre existential philosophy and Camus’ absurdist ideology on young Iduma is unmistakable. The author has achieved a victory for style. The novel is unconventional. The characters are undeveloped, coming with their baggage of sorrow and woe, going away again into oblivion.

Iduma weaves his episodes in the first, second, and third persons, one character taking over from the other to sustain the stream of consciousness, or what I will readily call the music of melancholy. The stories or episodes seem over-contrived and sometimes far-fetched. The pulsating vitality of Chuma Nwokolo is absent here.

Yet Farad is an exquisite artistic triumph from a very young man (Iduma is just 23!) with a decidedly intellectual bent. If he had written the entire book with the absolute brilliance he revealed in the episode Monkey’s Wedding (the tragedy of the cancer-afflicted Chika Igwe) I would have given him a standing ovation. It is interesting to speculate over how he would have handled the work if it had been a novel. His job would have been harder. Leafing through the pages, certain passages reminded me of Dostoevsky’s Notes From Underground, although Iduma’s work lacks the dramatic intensity of Dost.’s work. Farad ends with a quotation from some author (?) that reminded me of Martins Pever’s River Styx motif . The quote is: “There’s always something immeasurable that moves a man to go ashore”. I like this young man and hope Maik Ortserga will introduce him to the emerging master of African thought, yours sincerely.

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