Love's Affliction

Fiction - Cultural
278 Pages
Reviewed on 04/19/2015
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Author Biography

Fidelis O. Mkparu was born in Onitsha, Nigeria. He was a recipient of Reader’s Digest Scholarship. A Harvard-trained cardiologist, he has published peer-reviewed scientific papers and review articles in major journals, and written articles for lay people on medical issues. He was inducted into Paul Dudley White Honor Society by Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, where he was a ‘Spaulding fellow.’ He lives in Canton, Ohio.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Gisela Dixon for Readers' Favorite

Love's Affliction by Fidelis O. Mkparu is essentially a story of love set amidst the backdrop of interracial tension. The setting is North Carolina in the '70s and Joseph Fafa is an international student from Nigeria who wants to pursue a medical degree. The book explores Joseph’s immigrant background - born and raised in Nigeria - as well as his struggles and hopes as he attempts to assimilate into American culture. In college, he meets blond, light-eyed Wendy and the two immediately hit it off. Of course, this entails challenges for the young interracial couple, especially in the post-Civil War South where tensions between blacks and whites can still tend to run high, and where an interracial relationship like the one Joseph and Wendy share is still sometimes frowned upon and worse. The novel follows the lives of these young people as they break and make up several times, form friendships with other people, and at the same time try to fight for their love. Will they overcome all odds? Or will society prove too much for them? This is what forms the plot of the novel.

I enjoyed reading Love’s Affliction a lot and some of the themes of racism and immigrant bias are especially relevant in today’s culture and society. Both the central protagonists are drawn superbly and I especially found myself rooting for the central character of Joseph as he displays honesty, integrity, and kindness throughout, even during the rough times. The supporting cast is also well drawn and complements the story well. I found the writing to be very engaging and the flow of the book kept me wanting to read more and more all in one go. Overall, this is an excellent book that is much more than just a romance book.

Cheryl E. Rodriguez

Love’s Affliction by Fidelis O. Mkparu is a tragic example of “what we don’t understand we reject.” Joseph Fafa is a young, somewhat naïve, Nigerian college student who chose to study abroad in the 1970s. He was not prepared for the traditions or colloquialisms, much less the old southern mindsets of North Carolina. Joseph comes to the States to pursue a medical degree. During his freshman year, Joseph falls in love with Wendy Crane, a smart and beautiful southern belle. Their love is challenged by immature ideologies, racial slurs of classmates, and the extreme prejudice of Wendy’s wealthy and prominent father. It seems being the top of your class has no merit in the realm of bigotry. Lost in a culture he does not understand, disillusioned by its racism, Joseph continues to press on with his education. But the cost of his love for Wendy takes its toll. Love hurts. Joseph is educated, not only academically, but emotionally. “Love has no dimension or ethnicity ... the ones who yearn for it the most are the afflicted.”

Fidelis O. Mkparu depicts a tale of cultural diversity in Love’s Affliction. It is obvious that Mkparu used his personal experience, being a native Nigerian and a successful doctor, as a foundation for his story. The setting of the south portrays the notion that “people change, but not much.” Even though it was the late 1970s, the strongholds of old southern ways still remained. This set the stage for the narrative’s conflict, man against society. The growth of the main character is commendable. He meets the challenges of racial prejudice with grace, and remains focused on his education, even through emotional upheaval. However, as a reader, I became frustrated with his female counterpart. Although strong in mind and spirit, she was irritating when using her feminine charms. The novel depicts the awful reality of racial prejudice and cultural bias in the US, yet focuses on the theme of overcoming against all odds. Unlike the outcome of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Love’s Affliction has a hopeful conclusion, reminding the reader that although love hurts, it is a priceless gift, and while life is difficult, it is worth living.

K.C. Finn

Love’s Affliction is a romantic culture clash novel by author Fidelis O. Mkparu, which centers on a young man named Joseph Fafa. A Nigerian in the 1970s, Joseph travels to North Carolina, USA, to fulfil his dreams of studying medicine, but his life takes a precarious turn when he falls in love with Wendy, an American girl. Unlike many of the straightforward romances hitting the shelves nowadays, Joseph’s life takes varied turns and he makes many mistakes in his relationships - not least because his skin colour and heritage are met with prejudice by many of the people he meets. This epic novel takes readers through the lives of many students in the American college system with race and prejudice as its central themes, but also gives hopeful insight into those young people of the seventies who were chasing their very own American dreams.

I always enjoy reading books that explore non mainstream cultures, and Fidelis O. Mkparu’s work was full of tradition and family heritage, particularly in the guiding voice of Joseph’s father. There was, however, a great deal of change and assimilation taking place in the novel too, as Joseph develops during his time in America, growing from a freshman into a young man making his way in the world. I can’t say that I warmed to the central characters, but they were authentic in their voice, emotions and flaws. I feel that readers looking for a realistic story about interracial relationships will find Love’s Affliction to be a fascinating and enjoyable read.

Charity Tober

Love’s Affliction by author Fidelis O. Mkparu is a beautiful and inspirational interracial contemporary fiction read. The story follows a Nigerian immigrant named Joseph Fafa as he begins his premed studies at a small North Carolina College in the late 1970s. While at college, he meets and falls in love with another student named Wendy Crane. The relationship is initially intense, but proves difficult though as time goes on. The story takes place in the 1970s and interracial dating was not widely acceptable during that time - Joseph is a dark-skinned immigrant and Wendy is a Caucasian American female from a rich family. Wendy’s family immediately and intensely protests the relationship, and Joseph and Wendy struggle to maintain their romance. The couple experiences heartbreaking ups and downs during the course of the book and readers will be turning pages long past bedtime to see if Joseph and Wendy’s endearing and forbidden relationship survives. There are moments that will have readers laughing, crying and even retrospectively thinking of their own past relationships while reading Love’s Affliction.

Kudos to author Fidelis O. Mkparu for creating such a memorable and inspiring story involving the real challenges and struggles of interracial couples. I found the dialogue and characters to be realistic and multi-dimensional and the story flowed nicely. Joseph is a great protagonist and (with the way the author writes him) readers can really feel the intensity of his struggles and hardships as he endures them. I found him to be very likeable and resilient; he did not let the racial oppression get him down, he maintained his dignity and took the high road. Fans of interracial stories and contemporary and romantic fiction are sure to enjoy Love’s Affliction by author Fidelis O. Mkparu.

Christine Nguyen

Love's Affliction is a novel chronicling the life of young Joseph Fafa as he starts a whole new world in America in the 1970s. Racial tensions are high and bigotry is still a common thing in North Carolina when Joseph is thrust into a new world where everything is alien and different for him compared to his politically unstable home of Nigeria. His parents send him to America for better opportunities as he strives to be accepted into medical school. He finds himself falling in love with Wendy, a beautiful and intelligent student whose father is one of the most influential and wealthy men in North Carolina. Their love blossoms despite the racial slurs and harassment they receive, but can their love overcome Wendy's father's bigoted objections to their forbidden union? Joseph and Wendy go through many turbulent periods that test their young, passionate love, while Joseph blossoms into a man full of pride.

Author Fidelis O. Mkparu writes this compelling story with Joseph's viewpoint on his struggles to better himself and fight against the bigotry he faces in the deep south. He draws the reader into Joseph's world and illustrates the true integrity and character that Joseph possesses. The reader reads with sympathy and compassion for the many obstacles that Joseph has to go through in the early 1970s at age 17 and onwards to reach his goal of becoming a doctor. Joseph and Wendy's love story is a tale as old as time itself, but it's a story worth reading.