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Reviewed by Joel R. Dennstedt for Readers' Favorite
The honest, urgent, and disheartening message buried at the core of Ebele Ufondu’s blistering indictment of endemic, systemic corruption, The Land That Shivers, a fictional depiction of contemporary Nigerian society – though universally applicable, even in so-called “developed” nations – is this cogent observation offered more than halfway through the intensely compelling narrative: “[F]or the heart of man knows right from wrong, and those who do wrong do wrong knowingly.” Nigeria, however, does offer perhaps the most extreme example of societal disaster caused by such ubiquitous and power-based wrongdoing, and in choosing this environment for her novel, Ufondu is able to strike the most glaring and disturbing dichotomy possible between the extreme arrogance of wealth and those from whom it has been stolen.
The Land That Shivers by Ebele Ufondu is more than just a cautionary cultural tale about our highly corruptive and corrupted world. First and foremost, this is a novel about humanity at its core, both good and bad, and even perhaps about the redemptive value to be found in human suffering. With truly evocative prose, a surpassingly accomplished skill at creating the most vivid sense of place, and with exceedingly strong and potent writing, Ufondu tells a fascinating, interweaving story about a young man growing to adulthood amidst unbeatable odds against his own survival. An honest, hardworking, compassionate man in a world that considers this its most sinful weakness; someone whom it must beat down. Eventually, this man, Asa, must confront his destiny in a final bid for life, and the concluding pages will keep you riveted to your seat as you await the final determination of his fate.