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The Shadow of a Smile

by Kachi A Ozumba

Rich boy Zuba and his pal Ike fall foul of Nigeria's corrupt justice system and land in jail. How will they survive the squalor, overcrowding and unspeakable communal toilet of their prison cell? Although first-time author Kachi Ozumba doesn't pull any punches in his descriptions, this is a surprisingly cheering read due to some irrepressible, larger-than-life characters, lively dialogue and an engaging hero.

Extract

'That's how it is here o,' Mike said. 'Entrance is easy but exit is difficult. You people, however, know you will be going home soon, which is more than the rest of us can say.'
Zuba pulled himself together; something in Mike's words had stung his conscience.
'Don't brood, keep busy, daydream or sleep - or, better still, eat, it will make the time go faster,' Mike added, glancing at the bag of food.
Zuba heard Chemist swallowing saliva beside him, and became aware that the eyes of the other inmates were glued to the food bags. Tension was building up in the cell, the kind that preceded a feeding frenzy in the wild. He reached for the bags and passed round drinks and food. There were four packs of fried rice and chicken from Mr Bigg's. Zuba handed one to the prefect, one for Mike and the ball-grabber to share, and one for the other two.
'No, Okpu-uzu will cheat me. He will grow two mouths and five hands. Let me share with Chemist instead.' Mike got up as the inmates laughed and sat opposite Chemist.

Parallels

Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King
Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Trouble with Nigeria by Chinua Achebe
 

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