Book Review – Blackass

Book Review - Blackass by Igoni Barrett

 

Book Review - Blackass- Igoni Barrett

Furo Wariboko woke up and he had turned white. Naturally, I feel the need to ask why? Here’s an unemployed 33-year-old university graduate still living in his parent’s home, he’s understandably struggling with self-esteem issues and so on; but why turn white? Well, you won’t find your answer here. The author tells us to take it or leave it, he turned white. End of story. Let’s move on.

Furo definitely doesn’t waste any time moving on, 2 hours into his transformation and he’s already reaping the benefits of his whiteness. He talks his way into the purse of a random stranger, he not only jumps the queue at the job interview he woke up for, he is offered a Senior Position, with reasonable perks, and at this point (I still don’t get it) he decides not to go back home ( Why?, not because his family won’t accept him… ). He talks his way into a room in the home a “Lagos Big Girl”, who apparently is happy to feed, fuck and clothe him as long as he has the power to give her mixed race babies like all of her friends.

Something that bugs me about this is the writer inserting himself into the story. I know… It’s just a character that happens to be a writer, and has dreadlocks whose name is Igoni; the purpose of this character appears to be providing an external view to Furo’s story (I don’t know!!) but I found his/her narrative too long and kind of pointless. So Furo’s sister became a twitter celebrity, Who cares?

I won’t say it wasn’t entertaining though. One thing this book has in abundance is laughs, it is funny, educative for aspiring digital marketers etc but there are one too many aspects that turn me off. For example:

  • Introducing Igoni as a man and by the next chapter, he’s a woman. Why? The Igoni we were introduced to showed no indication of desiring to be a woman. How did it happen? It’s one thing for Furo to transform but sneaking another transformation on us, out of the blue with no explanation. No!!
  • I also wasn’t happy with the blatant, ‘it’s a white man’s world’- ness of the story (Does that make sense?). I am well aware of reality, but I don’t want to read about it, especially in a character as disgusting as Furo. You see, Furo is a master manipulator, he doesn’t think twice about using people and frankly I don’t like him at all. Of course, this character flaw is nurtured by people who will do anything to be associated with his whiteness.

Verdict

Verdict _ Ambivalent

As much as I have issues with the story, the book is an interesting read. It is funny, and the writer’s ability to bring Lagos to life with his words is flawless. He perfectly describes the economic disparity you’ll find moving from one end of Lagos to another, even the plot is coming together nicely till we get to Igoni’s transformation.

Would I recommend it? Sure, it’s a great story and reactions can be subjective.

Book Quotes

“Furo Wariboko awoke this morning to find that dreams can lose their way and turn up on the wrong side of sleep.”

“Mosquitoes. Those Brit-massacring heroes of West Africa’s anti-colonial resistance: the unacknowledged national insect of Nigeria.”

Title: Blackass

Author: A. Igoni Barrett

Genre: Fiction

Pages: 272

Published by: Graywolf Press

Year of Publication: 2016

Book Summary

Furo Wariboko, a young Nigerian, awakes the morning before a job interview to find that he’s been transformed into a white man. In this condition he plunges into the bustle of Lagos to make his fortune. With his red hair, green eyes, and pale skin, it seems he’s been completely changed. Well, almost. There is the matter of his family, his accent, his name. Oh, and his black ass.

Furo must quickly learn to navigate a world made unfamiliar, and deal with those who would use him for their own purposes. Taken in by a young woman called Syreeta and pursued by a writer named Igoni, Furo lands his first-ever job, adopts a new name, and soon finds himself evolving in unanticipated ways.

A. Igoni Barrett’s Blackass is a fierce comic satire that touches on everything from race to social media while at the same time questioning the values society places on us, simply by virtue of the way we look. As he did in Love Is Power, or Something Like That, Barrett brilliantly depicts life in contemporary Nigeria, and details the double-dealing and code-switching that is implicit in everyday business. But it’s Furo’s search for an identity—one deeper than skin—that leads to the final unraveling of his own carefully constructed story.

Obsessed with books.

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3 Comments

  1. When I read this book, and I got to the part where the author inserted himself and then transformed, it read to me like a sort of coming out story. If that makes sense? The book to me seemed like a cover up for the author coming out of some closet. Now I have no idea if he is in any closet, but it was sooo unnecessary for him to insert himself that it made me wonder, if he was trying to tell us something by putting himself in the story.
    But then I read Metamorphorsis, which the book was allegedly “inspired by” and I was disappointed all over again. Blackass didn’t work for me. The story seemed a little all over the place and didn’t eventually tie back together at the end.

    1. I thought about that too, whether he was coming out, but i realise that i don’t give a @#$%. Come out on your own time, or put it in the blurb so i know what i’m getting into. Yeesh!!