Nothing Comes Close

NothingComesCloseA few years back when my mum still lived in the UK, I had a Sunday ritual of going to her place for lunch and then settling down to watch a Ghanaian movie or two, that she had just bought or a Nollywood movie on OBE. What first started as a bit of daughterly  indulgence towards my mum, actually became a point of slight obsession for me because I found these movies really addictive and if I’m honest, still do. They are one of many guilty pleasures that I have. The endless plots, the melodrama, the jokes especially the unintentional ones, the depiction of everyday African life and culture, I find fascinating as well as really very entertaining. So it was my pleasure to read Nothing Comes Close, a debut novel by Tolulope Popoola, which is everything an African movie delivers but in literary form.

The novel is a typical boy-meets-girl story but fused with twists and turns, interfering relatives, jealous friends, unexpected deaths and more than a few secrets, lies and revelations along the way. Lola is an attractive independent, confident young woman who likes to hang out with her three best friends. She meets Wole at the party of one of said best friends and is immediately charmed by his good looks and cool mysterious demeanor. Wole too is taken by Lola and the two very quickly develop a relationship. But the course of true love does not run smooth because Wole despite being Mr Perfect is a man of several unbecoming secrets which are slowly revealed as the novel unfolds, leaving Lola to wonder if she can really trust him. The evidence and her sister (the interfering relative) says not. But Lola wants to follow her heart, and without wanting to give too much away she does but not without cost.

Though at times overly dramatic (my eyebrows were raised several times),  I really enjoyed reading this novel and was actually quite sad when it came to an end, I was that gripped by the soap-operaesque storyline (is there a part two?). It was pure Nollywood and just what I needed to bring some cheer to these wintry days. The dialogue was a little clunky at times, and the plot somewhat incredulous in that when Wole’s dark secrets came to light, I had some questions that did not get asked or answered, leaving me to consider that Lola was either very understanding and forgiving or just didn’t like to get bogged down in details. The same could be said for her friends who all seemed to be involved in some questionable dramas of their own. But it doesn’t matter because it was fun, captivating fun at that. More often than not the novels I read are quite heavy and serious, so it was nice to read something fairly lighthearted and funny, though it had its share of seriousness. My only other criticism asides from the clunky dialogue would be that I would have loved to have seen the characters ‘unpacked’  more to give them  a bit more depth and to make them more rounded and fully fleshed out characters. But, I feel this is a novel for the movie generation that like fast and furious plot lines that are neatly tied up in a couple of hours, and the fact that the novel is accompanied with its own trailer underscores my point. But this is no bad thing and I look forward to Popoola’s next offering, which I hope is not too long a wait and goes even further to show what a fine storyteller she is.

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3 thoughts on “Nothing Comes Close

  1. My husband lurves Nollywood films. It’s just as well that there are more than two tv sets in the house because when he begins to watch, you are not likely to see anything else. Sometimes I can watch them but most times I can’t as the films brings out the snob in me. What I mean is, I can’t stand when there is no satisfactory conclusion to a story (so what happened to the domestic who got pregnant by the Madam’s husband?); or if the story is set in the past, it comes across as if it is taking place in present day. For example like yesterday, there was a film called Slavery which obviously was about slaves that were captured by Europeans but the scenery/setting was not convincing so I was no longer interested in wathcing it.

    I know the industry is still in its infant stages and despite my protestations, it will progress and eliminate all those glitches. As my husband says, my eyes are too attuned to western visuals and that they can not forgive anything that is different. He is probably right, I hate to say!

    1. Thanks for the comments. I was the same as you when I first started watching them, hence the daughterly indulgence but against my better judgement I got hooked on them especially the Ghanaian ones which are generally full of a lot of humour. Plus for me it was an added bonus of being able to learn some more Twi, especially the more colloquial terms. And in their quirky, shaky set (reminiscent of Crossroads) way there’s always a moral to the tale however tenuous. It amuses me when they attempt to shoehorn the moral of the tale at the end as if to justify having made you sit through the movie for two and half hours and still no end in sight until part 4! But as with most things, it’s all part of the charm!

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