We felt it was important to say a little about Numen Yeye, by Biola Olatunde, because its production has been meticulous and lengthy, and it is very much a novel worthy of mention.
Biola Olatunde is a Nigerian novelist, poet and screenwriter, with a wealth of writing experience. Her foray into novel writing is one of her later efforts, and her first novel, Blood Contract, was published by IFWG Publishing, and has received critical acclaim. We don't publish many non-speculative fiction titles, but Blood Contract captured our interest, not only for its exotic adventure, but because the novel is also a significant social commentary on Nigeria today--village politics, violence, bribery, corruption--and yet it also talks about a people with a strong spirit and a captivating culture.
Numen Yeye is a longer, more detailed work, and to our additional pleasure, is essentially a speculative fiction piece. This novel delves into Nigerian culture to a much higher degree than Blood Contract; in fact, culture is the central theme. And what a culture! Biola paints a complex picture, a complete picture, of the wonderful spirit of the Nigerian people, in addition to the beauty and majesty of the 'old' religion. In contrast, Biola also depicts in detail the darker side of Nigerian culture, including black magic and witchcraft, as well as the negative elements of local Christian churches. All of these powerful themes are viewed through the eyes of two blessed young people, a girl and a boy. The periodic switching to the realm where the old Nigerian gods and spirits reside, and how they are bridged with these two young people, elevates Numen Yeye into a compelling read.
It is important to make a point about the writing style. Biola Olatunde is an accomplished poet, and her narrative has a strong poetic influence, which is well suited to the subject matter of the novel. Additionally, she wrote her novel in Nigerian English, and the conversion of it into US English was a long and meticulous project, the aim being to translate, without losing her style and the 'feel' of the Nigerian language. Readers will understand this careful balance the moment they read the first few paragraphs--we make no apology, we are intensely proud of our achievement.
Here is the early cut of the front cover, depicting a beautiful Nigerian girl.
And now the blurb:
Numen Yeye is about two worlds, inextricably interconnected. Numen Yeye is a princess in the Kingdom of Light, and her spirit is channeled through a young girl called Ife, who lives in a Nigerian village. Ife's awareness of her Light connection grows, but not as quickly as her dismay with the abuse of Nigeria's religious heritage in dark practices. And yet she recognizes what relevance her heritage has to her peoples', and her own, personal lives.
Numen Yeye is a story about Ife's discovery of her meaning in life, despite her growing, special abilities. It resonates with each and every reader. It is universal in theme. Numen Yeye is also about the spiritual lives of the Nigerian peoples, including their village customs and rites. It is a revelation.
Numen Yeye is not a typical contemporary fantasy novel. It was written in Nigerian English and the publisher has taken pains in retaining as much of the idiom and style as possible through its translation, while still enabling Western readers to fully appreciate what is a very different, fascinating world.