Book Review: Of Goats and Poisoned Oranges By Ciku Kimeria

I read this book in one sitting as I travelled from Nairobi to Sotik town in South Rift Kenya, and still had the time to enjoy the spectacular scenery on the way. It tells a story about the tumultuous marriage of a middle aged couple – Wambui and Njogu – living in Nairobi. Wambui is a graduate with a Bachelor of commerce degree from the University of Nairobi. Njogu on the other hand – a cobbler’s son who dropped out of school at standard three – is a driver turned businessman. The disparity in their backgrounds soon becomes a problem in how they relate to each other, and with their relatives. They soon have to deal with infidelity and its consequences, which they both try to work through quite determinedly.

The story is told from each spouse’s perspective and from the perspective of the different people in their lives who include; Nyambura (Njogu’s mistress), King’ori (Njogu and Wambui’s son), Muriungi (Nyambura’s brother) among others. This style of narration greatly affects the flow of the story as it jumps from year to year giving the impression that the whole book is a summary of events. For this, I felt shortchanged.

For a story on marriage, love, hate and betrayal, the story fell short of eliciting any emotions from me. It is a bland narration that does not bring out the emotions of the characters. I felt nothing for Wambui and Njogu throughout their marital journey. I did not feel their love. Betrayal is just a word in the book with no feelings attached to it. This book does a great injustice to the storytelling mantra of “Show, don’t tell” as the story is simply narrated with words carrying no emotion.

I however liked that it is written in a simple style with common Nairobi jargon cleverly thrown into the plot. This left me with a sense of familiarity to what the author is writing about.

For that, and because I am a sucker for love, and for the unforeseeable twist at the end, I rate it a 3 out of 5.

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