After touring around other websites as well as Twitter-scape, Umari Ayim, the award-winning author will round up her book tour here on TNC. Her new book, Guardian of the Fall, has been receiving rave reviews and it’s only fitting that she gives the TNC community a taste of her excellent writing. So being the last day of her book tour, Umari has been generous enough to give us a copy of the book to bestow upon a lucky winner. Well, all you have to do is listen to the author’s book reading (or read the transcript) and share your thoughts in the comments section or ask the author any related question. It’s quite simple really. Umari will be here to respond to all commenters.
Before we delve into the reading proper, you might be wondering – who’s Umari Ayim?
Umari Ayim is a lawyer, writer and poet. Umari has always had a passion for writing since she was a little girl living in the bustling city of Lagos. As a member of the Literary and Debating Society of her secondary school, Umari served as the director of poetry and also wrote stage plays for the society. Her first book, a novel, ‘Twilight at Terracotta Indigo’ won the ANA/NDDC Flora Nwapa Prize for Women Writing in 2011. Her second book, a collection of poems titled ‘Inside My Head’ won the ANA Poetry Prize the following year in 2012. As a social commentator and gender activist, Umari has also published several articles published in both traditional and online media platforms.
As for the book, Guardian of the Fall, well:
The story is spun around the Guardian, the eponymous character, and keeper of a picturesque forest and waterfall in Agbokim village, in Cross River State, Nigeria. The Guardian is a force, a deity of some sort, which exhibits formidable powers, including shape shifting (appearing as a child, an old woman, an owl, a snake, a satyr-like creature, and a goat with a baby’s face). It attempts to match make its messenger, Erom, with Ken, a developer who wants to build a resort near the falls. Erom, with no say in the matter, is chosen, as a messenger of the Guardian; Ken’s parents decide his profession, university, where he’ll work and even the day he should start work; and the Guardian, through dreams and visions, essentially pulls Erom and Ken together, which, upon introspection, asks the philosophical question – how real and true is human love if it is predestined and fated by the gods? From the Kikuyu creation story, to the subtle painting of Omom as almost an allegory to Jesus, faith in the supernatural is also big in the novel.
So, let’s get to it.
* * * * *
Ken walked back into his room with the envelope. He was grateful for the dedication of the men working with him. They were just as excited as he was at the prospect of seeing the resort being transformed from a mere image to a place that people could visit. That evening he had briefed his father about the progress they were making. His father had been pleased, but told him that he expected more. For the first time, Ken did not mind meeting his father’s high standards. Working to build a resort in the company of a woman he found attractive made the demands worth it.
“I’ll do my best Dad.” He had promised before they said their goodbyes.
He returned to his room with the large manila envelope holding the photographs Andrew had taken at the fall. Dumping them on the bed, he walked to the bathroom where the hot water faucet squeaked and hissed loudly when he turned it. Resigning himself to fate, he rushed through a cold shower with gritted teeth. Back in the room, he prepared to sleep, already looking forward to the next day. He had one more day in the village before heading back to Calabar to bring back more workers to clear the land. Before then, he wanted to learn more about the forest and waterfall.
He reached for the envelope on the bed to treat himself to the photographs. That evening, as they brainstormed on a few new ideas for the resort, the man’s enthusiasm had surprised him.
“Must be in the pictures,” he said to himself as he removed them from the envelope. Andrew’s shots captured the essence of the forest and the fall, and Ken admired the waterfall as if he was seeing it for the first time. The rainbow they had seen that afternoon was even more captivating in the photos. The last picture made him smile. Erom was a beautiful addition to the spectacular view behind her. His eyes ravished her in the privacy of his hotel room. He could not help noticing the full swell of her chest under her dress. Forcing his attention away, his eyes moved to the tree behind her. A frown appeared on his face when he saw the thing hiding behind the tree. It was black and could have been nothing more than a shadow, but he knew it was not. The sight of it was uncomfortably familiar. The hair stood up at the back of his neck. It was the image in his nightmares.
* * * * *
Whoa! Ok, that was getting scary.
Yes, we told you the book has been getting rave reviews, right? Here are some of them:
Umari Ayim is an award-winning writer with a respectable body of work both in prose and poetry. ‘Guardian of the Fall’ stubbornly refuses to fit into the genre box. Favourite line? When the Guardian tells Erom, “…Not all questions in life will be answered”. Favourite scene? The haunting one involving the murder-sacrifice of a child: for some inexplicable reason, it reminded me of the death of Ikemefuna in Things Fall Apart.
– Chiemeka Garricks, author of ‘Tomorrow Died Yesterday’
The ‘Guardian of The Fall’ is a beautiful blend of African myth and fantasy colliding with the modern world. Umari Ayim awakens our five senses in the pages of his book; her words make you see, smell, hear, taste and touch the elements of the pages. She paints a beautiful image of nature encompassed by mystery and takes us an extraordinary adventure through the forests of Cross River.
– Princess Abumere, Founder, The Sunshine Book Club
Ok, y’all have heard (or read, as the case may be) an excerpt from Umari Ayim’s new book. If you find it captivating enough to purchase right now, check at any of the bookstores below:
Quramo Publishing Limited Office
The Simi Johnson Centre, 13 Sinari Daranijo, Victoria Island, Lagos
+234 (0) 909 174 0210, +234 (0)1 454 7878
168 Awolowo Way, Ikoyi, Lagos, Nigeria
+234 (0) 803 332 0398
Shop B18, Adeniran Ogunsanya Shopping mall, Adeniran Ogunsanya Street,
Surulere, Lagos, Nigeria.
+234 (0) 709 048 5129, +234 (0) 1 730 7640.
Plot 13, Block 44, Park View Estate Entrance, Off Gerrard Road, Ikoyi Lagos,
Nigeria. +234 (0) 802 699 2535
Salamander Café Limited
5 Bujumbura Street, Off Libreville Street, Off Aminu Kano Crescent, Wuse 2
+234 (0) 809 220 4424, +234 (0) 809 220 4424
Roving Heights Books Nigeria
+234 (0) 703 203 8633, +234 (0) 909 215 8968
She’s here to respond to whatever questions are on your mind right now. Remember, you can be the lucky winner of a copy of this lovely book. All you have to do is tell us what you think that excerpt was about. First commenter to do that accurately gets the book. Easy, right?
This is TNC, use the comment box to express you!