Oyindamola Olofinlua

BOOK REVIEW: A Two-Sided Tale of Life: A Review of Tolu Ogunlesi’s Conquest & Conviviality

Literature, no matter how abstract it might be, always has a root in real life; no wonder literature is said to be a slice life. Turning and turning in the widening gyre of life, there are bound to be ups and downs and how these ups and downs are managed would determine how successful or otherwise the individual’s life would turn out to be.

With a touch of imagination and creativity, literary artists metamorphose what happens around them-the ups and the down-into plausible literary texts. Tolu Ogunlesi’s Conquest and Conviviality has been able to capture some of the goings-on of life.

Just as every song has an audience, so does every book. Writers may or may not strictly have a target audience, though. But from the evidence available, it seems that the audience in Ogunlesi’s mind is young people, teenagers in particular. The drawing on the front page is a strong pointer to this. However, it is not always good to judge a book by its cover because the cover could barely be a façade.

Conquest and Conviviality is not only for young people but also for adults and should come in handy for all and sundry. It not only tells a story without leaving the reader with something to brood over.

One of the lessons the reader stands to learn is that no one is an “everlasting-never-do-well” because change is the only constant thing in life. Even change changes. Therefore, parents should never lose hope over any child. Parents should always remember that life is full of surprises and that the rejected stone can become the head cornerstone. The former cornerstone can become rejected and disappointing.

The situation Conquest finds himself could safely be compared to that which the king of pop, Micheal Jackson did. Among those that contribute to the making of the degenerate Conquest are his unknown real parents, his surrogate mother, his “sister”, Uncle Barnard and the anonymous sender of the birthday card. However, unlike Michael, Conquest lives above it. This, nonetheless, doesn’t relegate the negative effects abuse could have on people.

Ogunlesi also achieves a milestone with regards to diction and the employment of illustrations. The beauty of literature should not be in the use of complex words that would get nascent readers confused, but in the use of words and expressions that are easily understandable, particularly when the target audience is yet to acquire a large repertoire of words.

In time past, many people have said that the size of books discourages them from reading. For those who belong to this group, comfort has come in the form of this book by Tolu Ogunlesi. Conquest and Conviviality has only 85 pages which can be finished within a couple of minutes. The author achieves this through the use of simple words and expressions.

A novelist is he who is able to take-in, digest and creatively regurgitate almost everything he observes around, even to the minutes detail without getting the reader bored. Through Conquest and Conviviality, Ogunlesi has been able to prove himself as a writer who never gets his readers bored, not even for a second. The narration, although simple, appears to be overtly sincere. The narrator makes no bones about what he thinks, thus, he could be very undiplomatic. An instance is when Conquest asks Convive: “Hey, Convive, um, how many dads do you think we’d have had by the time we die?” This question consequently makes his “twin” shed tears.

An authentic literary piece is always a relevant reference point to the society and a time in history. It may even be timeless. Even though simple, Tolu Ogunlesi’s Conquest and Conviviality is a “must-read’ and read-again.”

This review was first published here

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