Stay With Me: A Critique
Ms Adebayo attempts to convince us that a tertiary educated (at a time where university education did not completely suck in Nigeria) adult woman was convinced by her husband that some prick don’t rise and that’s okay, heterosexual coitus does not depend on an erect penis. Ms Adebayo’s explanation is that our protagonist is a virgin and virgin by literary definition-seeing as it is almost compulsively used as metaphor for naïve, pure, unexposed, foolish- obviously means the aforementioned.
Ms Adebayo is an exceptional writer, you can tell because of how well she mixes and matches writing styles, so fluid and effortless you don’t even notice because she has managed to capture and hold hostage your attention and that’s how you can tell she was born to do this. She is brilliant and much like the tittle of her book, her natural aptitude for story telling compels you to stay with her till the very end and you do stay with her. Enamored by her characters wit, humour and relatableness you don’t even notice that you have sort of read this book before, only, in fractions.
Stay With Me is a beautiful but unremarkable tale of marriage, fertility, the fragility of male ego and more. It’s an ode to Ms Grace Osifo and Ms Lola Shoneyin (Dizzy Angel and The Secret Life Of Baba Segi’s Wives; aha! That’s where you know this story from) it is everything that is Nigerian Literature, It is also everything that is wrong with Nigeria Literature, Here’s why; Nigeria is too colorful, too rich, too interesting for us to keep repeating stories, from the moment the child is named Rotimi, we know it’ll survive, why? Because we have been through this before, with Ogbanje.
There was absolutely no need or reason to mention the coup.
Does the loud, does not know the meaning of personal space, dirty Iya Bolu remind you of anyone? Or perhaps does she remind you of a little too many someones? The stereotypical loud Yoruba woman with common sense and a heart of gold beneath the wrapper that she ties loosely around her waist has been over played, dead it. There are more interesting, less lazy characters that would make for excellent sidekicks (e.g and off the top of my head; how about an accountant on weekdays and a children’s party clown on weekends for a sidekick? Id read that)
Nigerian stories do not have to feature calabashes and rain dances, it does not have to have a “tribal” feel to be authentic, a story about a tech start up in yaba is just as Nigerian and authentic as any story that features a calabash and eba spelled in italics as “gari” and as much as I appreciate the throw back to my childhood with the folklore, the over usage and the obviousness of the metaphors they conveyed felt as though Ms Adebayo was trying to reminds us how Nigerian her book is. Were I privileged enough to read this book before it went to print, I would have assured her that the Nigerianess of her book could never be up for debate, her masterful portrayal of Nigerian English, mannerisms, relationships (e.g Yejide and Moomi) was as Nigerian as they come.
Stay With Me has characters that come to life, they leap of the pages and right at you, unapologetic and fierce, from the moment you meet them, they need no further introduction, they have rich, colorful back stories, Ms Adebayo was not stingy with her imagination when it came to her Characters, I mean, a doctor wasn’t just a doctor, it was a doctor that needed a loan, Chimdi and Shophie where not just coworkers, even the inconsequential ex girlfriend that could have been a blimp, was not and for this I am eternally grateful to Ms Adebayo.
Stay with me is a beautifully written piece of art, it goes down well and doesn’t try to over intellectualize anything, she doesn’t fall into the trap that a lot of novels fall into these days; making a think piece out of everything. If you’re the type that can and actually likes to read leisurely, in a crowded room, in public transportation, this book is definitely for you. Stay with me wont have you going crazy with a highlighter or defacing it with handwritten notes, it’s the type of book you can put down for days, weeks and get back to it without needing a recap, it wont have you reaching for a dictionary or calling the friend that referred it to you in the middle of the night asking how the story’s gonna go or comparing themes and “omg did you totally get that”. Would Stay with me make it into pop culture reference for days to come? Probably not. Did it break new grounds? Not really. Would you be calling your friend out for giving you such a shit book? Definitely not.
If you haven’t had a vacation in forever, you’re done with grocery shopping and have some money left, if you aren’t a literature Nazi and like to read with a glass of wine and night light you should definitely read this book. If you are any of the above, you should read this book too, you may not be impressed but I promise, you wont be needing your time or money back.