In this debut novel, a Nigerian student moves to North Carolina for college, where he navigates the challenges of dating while keeping up his grades.
The novel begins with the narrator Joseph hard at work in his office. A former girlfriend calls to tell him that he has been given a shareholder position in a multimillion-dollar company. This triggers a flashback to his college years, which then makes up the rest of the book. The book then ends without returning to the opening storyline, so we never find out what happens with the company. Within those college years, however, the writing itself is skilled, but there’s minimal narrative arc. Instead, the tale progresses as a straightforward recounting of events; there’s not much sense of journey (internal or external) or psychological growth. Unimportant actions are explained in detail: “I brushed my teeth longer than is normal for me, since I had time. When I walked into the shower stall, I opted for a very warm shower.” Yet, for all this verbiage, key information goes without mention. For example, the narrator often notes that he is called racist epithets, but he rarely discloses these names or describes the experience. It’s a missed opportunity to create drama and powerful emotion. And, though we know he is a young Nigerian plunged into a foreign environment for the first time, he doesn’t show his culture shock or reactions to his new setting. Joseph seems passive and happy to accept whatever happens to him. For example, Francesca—a pretty, white sorority girl—throws herself at him, and he dates her, yet he doesn’t convince the reader that he actually likes her. Overall, this dearth of affect leaves Joseph seeming detached or robotic.
Good-humored and competently written, but doesn’t explore emotion or psychological motivation.