Soulful Return

Fiction - Literary
Kindle Edition
Reviewed on 02/25/2023
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Fidelis O. Mkparu is a Nigerian immigrant to the US, and in this novel, he sets out to speak to his experiences and those of his fellow immigrants. He is a professor of Medicine at Northeast Ohio Medical University and a senior attending cardiologist at Aultman Hospital and Mercy Medical Center in Canton, Ohio. Previously, he was a Spaulding fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital at Harvard Medical School. His preceding novels include Love’s Affliction and Tears Before Exaltation (CIPA EVVY Awards Winner, Literary & Contemporary Fiction 2018).

    Book Review

Reviewed by Vincent Dublado for Readers' Favorite

Soulful Return by Fidelis O Mkparu is a beautiful tale about change, death, life, renewal, and identity. Doctor Afamefuna Onochie Nwaku is a Nigerian-born, Harvard-trained medical doctor whose thriving medical practice is disrupted by a phone call from his sister in Nigeria. Adaku implores him to come home because her life is being threatened by those who are trying to take away their land. It has been twenty-five years since Afamefuna went home, as he has been busy making their humble family name known in medical research. He returns to his home country like a stranger in a strange land, as Adaku points out that he is no longer familiar with their native culture. He also finds that the corruption plaguing Nigeria is one disease that will be difficult to cure. But he will also experience an epiphany that he and his sister are equals in every aspect of their lives, and that is the way it is supposed to be.

Soulful Return is a simple story and yet it sings. It will largely remind you of the works of esteemed African writers like Chinua Achebe and Naguib Mahfouz. It has a powerful theme of identity, which is lost and rekindled within Afamefuna. The societal evils are another conflict to be reckoned with as Fidelis O Mkparu prepares you for a culture shock with his vivid descriptions of local color and the corruption that hounds it. Mkparu writes in English, but his use of Nigerian slang makes his narrative authentic. Moreover, he manages to weave different conflicts into the story that allows for its resolution to bridge the two cultures that the protagonist inhabits. Underlying everything, it seems to say that it is important to look back when you are at the pinnacle of your success because your past always has a way of taking you back to where you began. This is a powerful literary tale rich in reflection that everyone should take time to read and absorb.

Kim Zoby

Soulful Return by Fidelis O. Mkparu is the story of Dr. Afamefuna Onochie Nwaku, an African immigrant educated in the U.S. who worked his way up through the ranks in a major hospital. After decades with little contact from home, Afam received a troubling phone call. His sister Adaku was panic-struck. She feared for her life and pleaded with her brother to return to Africa to claim his place as the family heir and settle a dangerous land dispute that was escalating out of control. Afam’s marriage was troubled, and the hospital depended on his expertise. Afam must choose whether to risk everything he has worked for, including his marriage, and rush to his sister's aid, or remain in the security of the life he has grown to love.

Fidelis O. Mkparu’s writing style captures the emotions of an immigrant torn between two worlds through thought-provoking and heartfelt descriptions of the hardships he faced and his relentless longing for loved ones left behind. His internal struggle comes to life vividly in this mesmerizing tale. I could almost feel the anxiety Dr. Nwaku experienced once his airplane landed in a volatile and corrupt country. Being a foreigner in his birthplace was heart-wrenchingly described as Afam faced rejection and ridicule from the locals. Soulful Return describes historical and cultural differences, along with the immorality of lawless third-world politics in an eye-opening manner that will shock the reader. I was appalled by the indignities Afam suffered at the hands of local law enforcement and their attempts at bribery. This is an incredible journey into the mind of a man struggling with family duty in the dangerous world he had left behind.

Rabia Tanveer

Soulful Return by Fidelis O. Mkparu is a story of resilience and determination. The story follows Afamefuna Onochie Nwaku who has the best of everything. He has a great life, a family, a satisfying career, and a loving wife. Nothing is missing in his life until one day he gets a call from his sister in Nigeria. She claims her life is in danger and Afamefuna, known as Afam, packs his bags to help her out. Whatever he is expecting to find back home, it isn’t what greets him. His home, his people, and the land he once called home are not the same anymore. The best course of action would be to stay in Nigeria and help his family and people but what about his family and wife back in New York? What will Afam do?

The parallels in Soulful Return give the story life and an elevated reading experience and author Fidelis O. Mkparu has done a fantastic job with the character development. I loved how Afam is satisfied with his life, but his wife Elisha isn’t. She feels a distance between them that has evaded Afam. While Elisha wants him to take the big boss job, Afam wants to go to Nigeria. The situation in Nigeria is very different from what he expects and it is the wake-up call he needs. I hated Ejike; he is deceitful, conceited, and power-hungry. The one thing that stood out to me was the description of the country and situation in Nigeria, of Afam's life in New York, and the way each piece of dialogue has an immense effect on the character development, which played a magical role in the story. The pace was perfect, the narrative was character driven, and the overall feel of the story was intense. I loved it!

Essien Asian

At a first glance, it is easy to believe that Afamefuna Onochie Nwaku has it all. He is a medical practitioner in one of the top hospitals in Boston as well as married to a beautiful and supportive wife with two lovely children who are now leaders in their chosen professions. Despite all these positives, Afamefuna still feels a tinge of emptiness. He is homesick and longs for his ancestral land in Nigeria. Not long after he is offered a coveted position at his place of work he receives a distress call from his sister, begging him to come home to take possession of his birthright. Soulful Return by Fidelis O. Mkparu describes how he must choose between the comforts of America and the demands of his ancestral duties.

Fidelis O. Mkparu takes on a topic that is sensitive to many African men living abroad. It is evident from the discussions that take place between Afamefuna and Elisha that there is a disconnect between their concepts of duty to family. The author does not shy away from incorporating uncomfortable subjects into his storyline, such as the subtle racism Afamefuna is exposed to at his workplace. For me, the icing on the cake is the way he captures the essence of his principal character's longing for home using unique parlance such as the references to the buried umbilical cord which has significant importance in Igbo culture. The description of shady government officials and underhanded dealings gave the novel the stamp of authenticity of a well-researched book and the spiritual conversations with the ancestors complemented by the local proverbs added unique color to this enchanting work. Soulful Return could not have been crafted better.