‘Everything is not about book here.’
This is the first book that I’ll be reviewing, whose author I met beforehand. Met but didn’t really know. Now after reading the book, I look at him with a side eye. If this book were fictional, I probably wouldn’t have that reaction, but seeing as it’s a memoir…
Sixty Percent of a True Story is Osisiye Tafa’s debut novel and it is an excellent start to what is going to be a promising writing career. As a title, Sixty Percent of a True Story or 60% of a True Story certainly gets the brain working and stirs up conversation. At Tafa’s book launch and book reading, the question on everyone’s mind was – Which part of the tale was true and which part was merely a figment of Tafa’s overworked imagination?
As titles go, this one works for me. I think it is an excellent choice for a memoir, since memoirs are not bound by the strictness of a biography as regards timelines, facts, and all that other really boring stuff. So I would give the title 10/10.
Sixty Percent of a True Story gives us a glimpse of life at the University of Lagos through the eyes of the protagonist and two of his friends. The latter part of the book also reflects on the initial struggles faced by a young man thrown into the ‘real’ world. I won’t focus too much on the plot, as it is a memoir rather than a fictional tale and so the plot has a lot to do with how Tafa chose to live his life (in a very colourful manner, in case you were wondering); however for someone who spent many of her formative and her later years in a foreign land, I was able to, for the first time, experience Nigeria through the eyes of a Nigerian youth. And isn’t this the beauty of written works? That one can live a life that you would otherwise not have lived. I would give the plot 8/10.
There were three main characters in the novel – Osisiye, Korede and Chris. And through these characters Tafa explores several different themes – education, homophobia, fraud, mental illness amongst others. However, Chris is a character I felt would not have been missed had he not been there; especially as his rather skeletal tale was told mostly through Osisiye’s eyes, rather than his own. I would give the characters 5/10.
Just as she told us of Lot’s miraculous exit from the town, Ify raised his hand.
‘Yes, my dear?’
‘So, ma, you mean till today we still don’t know who did Pssssssst and made Lot’s wife to turn back?’
If you like light hearted novels, or just plain comedy; don’t be turned off by the heavy themes I mentioned earlier. Tafa’s voice is witty and sharp. I laughed several times whilst reading the story and many quotes, passages are now stuck in my mind - from the yarn of the girl who refused his romantic advances because he didn’t have a car, to his having to carry his lecturer’s bag in order to pass the class (hence the quote at the start of this review). His writing style is choppy, he jumps from anecdote to anecdote; but it works somehow. I would give his writing 7/10.
Read this book. You’ll be glad you did. You can purchase it at Terra Kulture, Laterna, Konga and Amazon.