Book Review: This House Is Not for Sale by E. C. Osondu

Book Review: This House Is Not for Sale by E. C. Osondu

Written not in chapters but parts,  This House Is Not for Sale by E. C. Osundu does feel like a collection of humorous short stories more than a novel.  In many other ways,  the novel is quite unconventional, if not outrightly eccentric.

The narrative style, for one, employs the ancient African Griots' technique; an oral tradition which uses simple and sparse language, thematic repetitions and cunning plotting and often contains clear moral lessons.  Also, although the narrator who is the grandson to the owner of the Family House  is inside the story,  it still sounds like a third-person narration

Most parts of the book introduces a new character, such parts like Uncle Aya,  Gramophone, Ibe, Ndozo,  etc,  centers on the story of the eponymous characters. This House Is Not for Sale presents such deeply flawed individuals who constitute the inhabitants of the Family House.

The added flavour of mystery - the unexplained and unexplainable - especially as it relates with the beliefs of the characters and the society they live in elevates this book into the rankings of timeless classics as Things Fall Apart.

E. C. Osondu, a Caine Prize winner, uses this unorthodox novel to highlight the corruption and greed laced in the fabric of the Nigerian society. He uses humour and simple language in representing the gloomy state of things in Nigeria.

The Family House symbolises the rotten society in which we live in, where theft, corruption and other numerous taboos are allowed to go on with impunity all in the name of making money. It is the fortress for criminals, and as the narrator explains in Gramophone about a killer's decision to seek protection from punishment in the Family House, "... there was only one place on this earth where no arm no matter how long could reach him, and that was the Family House." Grandpa is the kingpin of this devious society, and often masterminds the abominations that are perpetuated.

The introduction of unnamed voices, marked by paragraphs beginning and ending with dashes, adds a distinguishing feature, more of which the novel does not really need,  but it is nonetheless ingenious and goes further to expand the scope of the folkloric novel.

This House Is Not for Sale is written in plain conversational language, much like the one an ancient storyteller will use, and this will certainly appeal to many readers who do not care much for dense descriptions and literary language.

This novel delivers on simplicity,  humour and beautiful narrative technique and would most definitely leave the reader wanting more.

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