Already known as a gorgeous literary stylist and keen-eyed art critic, Emmanuel Iduma unfurls his inimitable, rhythmic prose to tell the story of his return to Nigeria, where he grew up, after years of living in New York. Though prompted in part by a family wedding and the death of his father, he had an urgent, elusive mission, as well: to learn the fate of his uncle Emmanuel, his namesake, who disappeared in the Nigerian Civil War in the late 60s. A conflict that left so many families broken, the war remains at the margins of the history books, almost taboo to discuss, so Iduma must stop in city after city throughout the Biafran region, reconnecting with relatives dear and distant to probe their memories, stopping at university libraries to furtively photo copy illicit books, and visiting half-abandoned monuments along the highway. And perhaps, if he can understand how his father grieved the loss of his brother, Iduma might learn how to grieve his father, in turn.
Equal parts memoir, national history, and political reckoning, this is a story of loss and grief, both deeply personal and collective. It’s the story of countless families across the country and across the world who will never have answers or proper funerals for their loved ones. It’s a story about the birth of an artist, about writing itself as an act both healing and political, even dangerous. But it’s also a classic story of repeated history – how a country that never healed from its fissures decades ago is now seeing the same political agitations roiling again. Underground political groups are clamoring for a new Biafran revolution today, and Iduma must determine whether there’s a place for him in that movement. How much of his identity is wrapped up in this history? What does it mean to return home, when home was always more about a person than a place?