A collection offers an evocative and insightful—though far from positive—view of humanity.



A short story collection explores the lives of Nigerian men and women.

In this volume, Akinyemi takes readers into the minds and inner lives of Nigerians, particularly men, at home and abroad. In “Black Lives Matter,” a soccer player channels both grief and ambition into success in a European league only to find himself confronting racism. “In the Trap of Seers” has a female protagonist, a woman whose mother drags her to one spiritual guru after another. In “Inferno of Silence,” Kunle endures his wife’s abuse, which challenges the cultural assumption that husbands are dominant. Another failing marriage is the focus of “Blinded by Silence,” in which a woman determined to avoid her parents’ fate ends up following in their footsteps. The stories explore questions of masculinity, family, and identity, and the characters reveal the variety of experiences in contemporary Nigeria, from traditional villages to college campuses to skyscraper-dwelling tech companies. Akinyemi employs a distinctive and evocative prose style (“His dirty linens were not just washed in public, they were sun-dried and left for the whole-world to cast derisory glances at”) that leaves readers with a clear image of the people and places he describes. But readers accustomed to standard American English may find the writing awkward at times (for instance, a character is referred to as “the Chinese”). The characters can be insufferable (“I had the chance to showcase my exceptional talent to the entire world”), but they are generally satisfying in the context of their tales. The players’ complexity and diversity of backgrounds and experiences provide a layered and nuanced look—if, perhaps, a jaded one—at the lives of an assortment of Nigerians. While a few of the stories end on relatively upbeat notes, with characters overcoming obstacles and moving beyond troubled pasts, the collection as a whole seems intent on showing how determined people are to cause problems for themselves and others. The book is not necessarily an uplifting read, but it is an engaging one, with an eye for vivid details and human shortcomings.

A collection offers an evocative and insightful—though far from positive—view of humanity.

Pub Date: May 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-913636-02-9

Page Count: 214

Publisher: The Roaring Lion Newcastle

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet



A flabby, fervid melodrama of a high-strung Southern family from Conroy (The Great Santini, The Lords of Discipline), whose penchant for overwriting once again obscures a genuine talent. Tom Wingo is an unemployed South Carolinian football coach whose internist wife is having an affair with a pompous cardiac man. When he hears that his fierce, beautiful twin sister Savannah, a well-known New York poet, has once again attempted suicide, he escapes his present emasculation by flying north to meet Savannah's comely psychiatrist, Susan Lowenstein. Savannah, it turns out, is catatonic, and before the suicide attempt had completely assumed the identity of a dead friend—the implication being that she couldn't stand being a Wingo anymore. Susan (a shrink with a lot of time on her hands) says to Tom, "Will you stay in New York and tell me all you know?" and he does, for nearly 600 mostly-bloated pages of flashbacks depicting The Family Wingo of swampy Colleton County: a beautiful mother, a brutal shrimper father (the Great Santini alive and kicking), and Tom and Savannah's much-admired older brother, Luke. There are enough traumas here to fall an average-sized mental ward, but the biggie centers around Luke, who uses the skills learned as a Navy SEAL in Vietnam to fight a guerrilla war against the installation of a nuclear power plant in Colleton and is killed by the authorities. It's his death that precipitates the nervous breakdown that costs Tom his job, and Savannah, almost, her life. There may be a barely-glimpsed smaller novel buried in all this succotash (Tom's marriage and life as a football coach), but it's sadly overwhelmed by the book's clumsy central narrative device (flashback ad infinitum) and Conroy's pretentious prose style: ""There are no verdicts to childhood, only consequences, and the bright freight of memory. I speak now of the sun-struck, deeply lived-in days of my past.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 1986

ISBN: 0553381547

Page Count: 686

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1986

Did you like this book?

A loose-limbed, bighearted Hollywood yarn.


A fictional account of the agony and ecstasy of making a movie, from someone who’d know.

For his sprightly debut novel, actor/writer/national treasure Hanks—author of the story collection Uncommon Type, 2017—imagines the making of Knightshade: The Lathe of Firefall, a mashup of Marvel-esque superhero fare, war story, and artsy melodrama. The movie’s concept seems like an unworkable, even bad idea, which is part of the point—Hanks stresses the notion that successful movies aren’t just a matter of story but the people who make them. So he’s assembled an engrossing cast of characters: Bob Falls, the World War II vet who served as a flamethrower in the Pacific theater and became a PTSD–struck biker; Robby Andersen, the nephew who turned him into alternative-comix antihero Firefall; Bill Johnson, the well-decorated Spielberg-ian director who acquires the Firefall property and writes the script; and the small army of actors, assistants, and technicians charged with shooting the film in the Northern California town of Lone Butte—on time, lest morale collapse and the budget inflate. Hanks ably depicts how easily things derail. The male lead’s ego wrecks the shooting schedule. A stray social media post complicates security. On-set flirtations threaten a marriage. But the novel reflects the sunny stick-to-it-iveness of many of Hanks’ roles, and his central thesis is that every movie’s true hero is anybody who reduces friction. To that end, his most enchanting and best-drawn characters are the director’s assistant, Al Mac-Teer (full name Allicia), and Ynez Gonzalez-Cruz, a ride-share driver with no movie experience but a knack for problem-solving. “Most of the film business is done by meeting folks,” one character says, and Hanks suggests that meeting the right people—and being kind to them—is half the battle of successful moviemaking. Overly romantic? Consider the source. Regardless, it’s a well-turned tale of a Hollywood (maybe) success. (Sikoryak illustrates some comic-book pages related to the Firefall backstory and film.)

A loose-limbed, bighearted Hollywood yarn.

Pub Date: May 9, 2023

ISBN: 9780525655596

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2023

Did you like this book?