The cover art did me in. That hand, in the shadows, rising out from the ground was too much of a temptation. I wanted to know what was behind it. What was the novel all about? How was the biblical story of Lazarus woven into its plot?
So I grabbed the book.
I also couldn’t help but glean the similarities of both books cover arts – the same use of colour and shades to interpret the titles, the fact that they shared the same publisher…
It was my first modern South Africa – based book, post-apartheid. Mine Boy, back in literature study days, did well to introduce my younger self to a glimpse of the South African way of life during the apartheid. Who can forget the ‘Free Mandela’ songs or the ‘Black President’ ones? My then innocent mind read for the pleasure of it; apartheid and white supremacy were concepts I didn’t quite grasp completely.
I’m older and wiser with more exposure to the then black South African plight (I was well aware of the official end of apartheid in the ‘90s, the release of Mandela, and his election as the first black South African president) especially through their numerous soaps and series – Egoli, Isindingo, Generations, Scandal, Jacob’s Cross, etc.
I read through this book like an old, familiar, well -referenced textbook unconsciously comparing it with The Carnivorous City.
H.J. Golakai’s inclusion of various nationalities brought its own interesting edge to the book while making it relatable. South Africa has become one of the preferred melting points of sorts for the world.
The South Africans and their culture, weather, food, mannerisms and attitudes reverberated as familiar nuggets gleaned from their soaps. The Liberian presence threw up the war and the devastating emotional and physical effects it could have on an adult, more so a child. Connie Adebayo represented Nigerians to the T – her speech, entrepreneurship tilt, attitude. The American intonation had me in stitches sometimes and was a fitting wrap for all the nationalities.
Thinking of Toni Kan’s mostly Igbo and sometimes Yoruba characters and how they paled in comparison to the rich variety depicted in this book propelled me on even when I had other engagements either personally or professionally. Then again, it wasn’t a fair thing to do. Each author to his/her own choice of character involvement and development.
The thrust of the plot not only kept me glued to the pages of the book but so did the romance, investigative journalism and personal lives of some of the characters. H.J. Golakai’s style of weaving in the Lazarus effect into the story didn’t leave me disappointed in the least. I applauded the way she finally connected VJ to the story she chased throughout the books length.
The Lazarus Effect was a good , worthwhile read. I am going to hunt down other books by H.J. Golakai.