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Fiction Friday: An Excerpt from Elnathan John’s Debut Novel, Born on a Tuesday

nullBorn on a TuesdayThis Fiction Friday, read an excerpt from the much-anticipated debut novel from Elnathan John, Born on a Tuesday.

Born on a Tuesday, described as a novel that “explores life, love, friendship, loss and the effects of extremist politics and religion on everyday life in Northern Nigeria”, is due out in Nigeria from Cassava Republic on 12 November, and locally and in North America from Grove Atlantic’s Black Cat imprint on 3 May, 2016.

John is an established Nigerian writer and satirist. Born on a Tuesday is an expansion of “Bayan Layi”, John’s short story that was shortlisted for the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2013. John was again shortlisted for the Caine Prize in 2015 for his short story, “Flying”.

John’s writing has been published in Per Contra, Evergreen Review and Chimurenga’s The Chronic. He is a 2015 Civitella Ranieri Fellow and lives in Abuja, Nigeria.

Elliot Ackerman, author of Green on Blue, says of the book: “Working in the tradition of Achebe, Elnathan John has penned a coming-of-age novel worthy of Twain. At times tragic, at times humorous, Born on a Tuesday is the story of those who find the courage to transcend violence even when born to its confines.”

Read the excerpt:

Extract from Born on a Tuesday, by Elnathan John

(taken from the start of Part Three)

Last month Malam Abdul-Nur stopped me at the entrance of the mosque and asked me if there was anything I wanted. First I was confused, thinking that perhaps he wanted to scold me for having done something wrong. But then his eyes were relaxed and the lines of his forehead weren’t so many and he wasn’t breathing hard like he does when he is upset. Reluctantly I told him I wanted a radio that has stations outside Nigeria – something like the big one in Sheikh’s office, but smaller, so that I can carry it around. At some point it crossed my mind that perhaps he wanted me to do something for him.

A few days after, he sent for me. He had just moved into his own office at the back of the mosque not far from where our rooms were. The new office has white walls and tiles and a small toilet inside. Since Sheikh has decided to make Malam Abdul-Nur the headmaster of the new school that is to be built on the land adjacent the mosque, the office will also be the office of the headmaster. I wonder about toilets that are built inside rooms. Will the whole room not smell when someone uses the toilet?

The office has a ceiling fan and a standing fan. The curtains in the office are not the normal type hanging from a rope nailed into the wall. They close and open when you pull a rope that has tiny plastic balls like a small chasbi. Alhaji Usman’s workmen built the office and they finished the construction and painting in only three weeks. The same men will build the school.

I chewed on my nails as Malam Abdul-Nur picked up two small cartons from under his table, and made some notes in his exercise book. I could not read what he wrote because it was upside down from where I was sitting, but I could see that he was writing in Arabic.

Malam Abdul-Nur did not raise his head from his exercise book when he asked: If Allah asks you to do something, will you refuse?

Book details


Image courtesy of Cassava Republic


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