Prefatory Remarks

(i)      “Art unaccompanied by criticism is dead art” – Charles E. Nnolim. 

(ii)     “Critics are like manure, they smell but writers need them in order to grow” – Charles E. Nnolim. 

Bibliographic Data: 

Book Title:  Long Wait

Author: Kingsley Anosike Agubom 

Genre:  Novel

Sub-Genre: Contemporary Nigerian Sociological Novel

Publisher: Kurious K Agubom Publishers

Year of Publication: 2024

City of Publication: Owerri

Chapters: 15 

Pages: 80


My highly esteemed audience, I thank the Almighty God for making it possible for all of us to attend this literary festival organised by Kurious K. Agubom Publishers  to commemorate and celebrate its three successful years in book publishing. To the Chief Executive Officer of the firm, Kingsley Anosike Agubom, who doubles as the author of Long Wait, the much-awaited novel, which I have been chosen to review today, I say a profound thank you. 

Indeed, writing a book of whatever serious quality  is a no-mean task. The following scholarly comments on the rigours inherent in writing are worth taking note of:

  1. “My son, of this be warned: of making many books, there is no end, and so much quest for knowledge amounts to the weariness of the flesh” – King Solomon (Eccl. 12:12). 
  2. “Writing is an act of self immolation hence you must pay for style” – Prof. Chidi T. Maduka (Personal Conversation). 
  3. “Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man” – Francis Bacon (The internet). 

These (three citations above) underscore the sagacity in the dictum that “if anyone wants to immortalise themselves, they should either do exceptional things worth writing about ( or ordinary things extraordinarily well)  or, better still brilliantly write things worth reading”. Those of us who do not yet appreciate the immense power and glory of writing should ask William Shakespeare or Nikolai Gogol or Chinua Achebe or even Ola Rotimi the magic behind their ever-green fame many years after they had died without leaving billions of Dollars behind for posterity . 

It is on this note that I once again greatly congratulate the author, Kingsley Agubom, on successfully adding another eagle feather to his literary cap by producing this novel – Long Wait (2024), which is being unveiled today. Agubom’s versatility, indeed, merits special accolades, as he is also a playwright, an actor, a song writer, a dancer, a musician, a tik-tok and film writer-cum-producer. 

Weighing My Terms 

It is germane for me to briefly define some of the key terms in this brief lecture now. The five  key terms are "Illusionment", " disillusionment", " Japa Syndrome ", “review” and ‘novel”. I believe that their elucidation can help the audience to understand my views. 

First : the keywords in the title : " Illusionment " and "disillusionment" connote hope and disappointment, respectively. They capture the current cargo - cult mentality among many Nigerian youths who uncritically believe  that the streets of Europe and America are littered with humongous heaps of Pounds and Dollars waiting for people to effortlessly come and pick them up , hence they must jet out in droves ("Japa") and become super - rich over night and immediately return to be celebrated at home , and the harsh reality that it takes a combination of hard work and natural intelligence for African emigrants  to survive the harsh socio - economic challenges they face over there where most times they are reduced to second - class citizens - no thanks to racism. Based on such illusions, people at home erroneously expect such emigrants to metamorphose into billionaires overnight. 

Etymologically, the next term “review” comes from a combination of two linguistic items, namely: “re” which simply means ‘again’ (as in “re-examine”, “re-explain” or “re-arrange”) and “view” which denotes to see , to x-ray  or to examine a given thing. Review in literary scholarly parlance , however, means: “a critique,” an account in which a new work of ART is critically discussed after an elaborate examination of its merits and demerits had been made” (Emeaba 173). Northrop Frye, Sheridan Baker and George Perkins similarly define it as “a journalistic critique of a new play or book” (394). A book reviewer is, thus, a critic  whose duty, among others, is to objectively dissect and dispassionately assess the value of the text before him or her (Chidi Ukagu “Lecture Note”). Like the Biblical Daniel, the reviewer/critic interprets a work for easier understanding to the reading public.

As for the other concept: a novel – it designates any realistic prose narrative that imaginatively portrays the common problems of man in society. M.H. Abrams and G.G. Harpham succinctly define a novel as an “extended work of prose fiction in prose” (252). According to E.M. Forster, a typical novel should incorporate seven crucial elements, namely: 

  1. The story (narration of fictional tales) 
  2. People (the characters/characterization) 
  3. Plot (the organizational structure/setting) 
  4. Fantasy (imagination) 
  5. Prophecy (theme/social relevance), and 
  6. Pattern and rhythm (technique/style). 

Austin Warren asserts that as a prominent form of fiction, the novel "must always have a structure, and an aesthetic purpose, a total coherence and effect; it must, of course, stand in recognizable relation to life" (5-6). Earlier, two famous literary scholar - critics: Longinus ( in "On the Sublime") and T.S Eliot ( in "Tradition and the Individual Talent") had harped on the importance of achieving sublimity and artistic decorum in literary creativity. The views expressed by Longinus, particularly call for our attention here. According to T.S. Dorsch, Longinus defines sublimity as "a certain excellence and distinction in expression " from which the greatest poets and historians  have acquired their pre - eminence and won for themselves an eternity of fame" (100). Though Longinus firmly believes, like T. S. Eliot, that creative writing is an innate attribute, he argues that writers need to nurture and hone this natural gift by reading and imitating others that had excelled before them (qtd. in Nwahunanya 23). Nwahunanya goes on to list the five sources of sublimity thus : 

i. Grandeur of thought. 

ii. Powerful and inspired emotion.

iii. Formation of figures of thought and figures of speech . 

iv. Noble diction and phrasing apt words and imagery to suit context and character, and , finally 

v. The presence of dignified and elevated expressions in every composition (23).

To Nwahunanya, the above - mentioned five elements constitute the fulcrum of what Longinus expects critics to look out for while criticizing a text (24), even though we know, as critics, that there are varied critical approaches to literary criticism.

In reviewing Agubom’s Long Wait, I will adopt M.H. Abram’s eclectic critical approach in his influential essay: “The Mirror and The Lamp” .  According to Abrams, a literary work can fruitfully be critiqued from four main angles, what he dubs “Four Coordinates of Literary Theory”, viz: the author, the society, the text and the audience. 

About the Author 

Kingsley Anosike Agubom, a Theatre Arts graduate from Imo State University, Owerri, hails from Okwudor, Njaba Local Government Area, Imo State, Nigeria. As earlier noted, he is a multi-talented, prolific artist and writer. He is a socially-conscious writer who adeptly deploys his works (plays), such as The Reason, the Bitter Truth, When a Champion Weeps, Dance and Tears, Sacrilege and Lost Sheep to mirror and criticize some of the social vices in contemporary Nigeria. Unfortunately, though, critics are yet to turn commensurate attention to this prolific writer and his many socially-relevant works. It is hoped that the birth of his maiden novel, Long Wait, today, will help to bring him into limelight. As one of the superscripts in this paper loudly echoes the point: “Art unaccompanied by criticism is dead art” (Nnolim “Contemporary 2”). 

Synopsis of Long Wait

The storyline revolves around a newly-married young man named Odenigbo, O.D., for short, who abandons his young and naïve wife, Ukamaka, in search of greener pastures in the United Kingdom. His long period of absence and lack of close contact with Ukamaka creates the room for her to fall deeply in love with another man, Victor, whom she meets at the University on her first day of processing her admission.

Odenigbo’s father, desperate to bring him home, consults a native doctor (Ebubeagu) who compels Odenigbo home through charms. But the consequences turn out to be extremely disastrous, ironically culminating in the tragic deaths of Kelechi, O.D.’s son, O.D., himself, and, finally, his father, Mazi Okeke. The entire story dramatizes some of the dangers inherent in the current “japa syndrome” among Nigerians youths (the quest for jetting out of Nigeria to the developed climes). 

Long Wait and its Social Relevance

Right from time immemorial, literature (whether oral or written) has always maintained an umbilical-cord relationship with society. Jean De La Fontaine, the famous French fabulist, underscores the point when he quipped: “I use animals to instruct man” (qtd in Nnolim Ridentem I). Referring to the novel in particular, Lionel Trilling asserts that “The novel, then, is a perpetual quest for reality, the field of its research being always the social world, the material of its analysis being always manners as the indication of man’s soul” (127).

Where, then, lies the social relevance of Agubom’s Long Wait? It lies clearly in its ability to dramatize the motley problems associated with the current craze for jetting out to Europe by many Nigerian youths, especially the male folk, in search of quick wealth. As can be seen from the case of Odenigbo, the central character in Long Wait, some of these youths end up forgetting their roots and abandoning members of their immediate families who, unfortunately, end up in futile long wait for them to return with their mirage-like promises of magical ships of wealth. Agubom effectively fictionalizes how “the Japa” syndrome eventually ruins the marriage between Odenigbo (O.D) and his young naïve wife, Ukamaka, as well as leads their only son, Kelechi, astray, who not only loses parental guidance, but also takes to criminality. The end is tragic, as Odenigbo dies, ditto for his son and his father. 

In sum, Agubom’s Long Wait is a subtle attack on the mad rush for abroad by Nigerian youths who unconsciously rush out of the country in search of the proverbial greener pastures and thereafter abandon their family members in perpetual wait for their triumphant return. The author also condemns the bothersome lack of moral probity among many contemporary Nigerian youths, which evinces grossly in their mammon-worshiping tradition, their indulgence in drug abuse and armed robbery and other forms of criminality. 

The novel is, thus, both socially and morally-relevant, for it reveals that evil does not pay. In it, Agubom seems to concur with Jeremy Collier who opines that: 

The business of plays [literature] is to recommend virtue, and discountenance vice, to show the uncertainty of human greatness, the sudden turns of fate, and the unhappy conclusions of violence and injustice: it is to expose the singularities of pride and fancy, to make folly and falsehood contemptible, and to bring everything that is ill under infamy and neglect . (97)

 Craft in Long Wait

Craft, as used here, refers to technique; the totality of the literary devices used in the novel. But before delving into the  discussion of that  in Long Wait, it is necessary to first review the term " technique " more elaborately. According to Mark Schorer, 

Modern criticism has shown us that to speak of content as such is not to speak of art at all, but of experience and that it is only when we speak of achieved content, the form of work of art as a work of art that we speak as critics…. (141)

He further notes that:  “when we speak of technique, then, we speak of nearly everything, for technique is the means by which the writer’s experience, which is his subject matter, compels him to attend to it: technique is the only means he has of discovering, exploring, developing his subject, of conveying its meaning, and, finally, of evaluating it” (141). 

In, therefore, evaluating Agubom’s manipulation of technique in Long Wait, I have spread my tentacles to its various aspects of craft: title, setting, character/ characterization, plot, theme, structure, and narrative style. 

Generally, I must commend the author for his bold and skillful manipulation of some of these various elements of the novel, particularly the apt title which successfully aligns with the storyline and theme; as well for the novel’s social relevance. Also worthy of commendation is the originality of the novel . The story is as fresh as it is current. 

However, there are noticeable stylistic and technical infelicities and gaucheries that need to be worked on in order to improve on its aesthetic quality. First is the excessive authorial comments. Hardly did the author give room for any character to engage in a dialogue with another. This robs the novel of some of its fictionality and literariness. For instance, there is no single proverb, nor myth, nor folk-tale nor oral song from any character in the novel; and no one should be surprised about this because the author mistakenly alienates the characters from the universe of the novel. In their various illuminating essays on the craft of fiction, Percy Lubbock (“Picture, Drama and Point of View”) and Wayne Booth (“Types of Narration”) have emphasised the need for writers to add life to their narrations by creating rooms for the characters to interact via dialogues. For a vivid illustration , we can consider, for instance, Elechi Amadi’s skilful mixture of authorial narration and character interaction in the following passage: 

…Emenike rounded a bend and faced Madume, a fellow villager. His arms were folded across his chest and his biceps formed two thick knots. He was biting his lips and his eyebrows met in an angry grimace: ‘At last you are here’, he spat out ‘Is that how it is?’ Emenike retorted ‘Do your worst’….  (The Concubine Ch. 1; p. 1)

This short passage deftly blends the telling (authorial narrative mode) and the showing (dramatic narrative mode) methods to grip an irresistible attention of the reader. A similar captivating  style of narration can be noticed in Chinua Achebe’s acclaimed novels: Things Fall Apart, Arrow of God, A Man of the People, among others. 

Another major area that calls for attention in Long Wait is the paucity of proper, patient and rigorous editing. Apparently, the draft version I used for this review might not be the final draft used for the final publication of the novel. But even at that, there is a serious need for a careful editing  of the novel, especially with regards to its language. In any case, that is one of the main reasons for book reviews like this: so that final corrections based on the reviewer’s objective criticism can be made. This is where the services of professional critics come in the art of literary creativity. Horace, the famous Roman scholar-critic, emphasizes the importance of such criticism thus: 

So, I will play the part of the whetstone, which can be put on a blade, though it is not itself capable of cutting. Even if I write nothing myself, I will teach the poet his duties and obligations. I will tell him where to find his resources, what will nourish his poetic art, what he may or may not do with propriety, where the right cause will take him…. (qtd in Nnolim “Criticism” 4) 

As earlier pointed out in one of the superscripts: “critics are like manure, they smell, but writers need them to grow” (Nnolim “Criticism” 4).

Long Wait and its Audience 

Kingsley Agubom’s Long Wait is an interesting story told in simple, decorous language. It has rich moral values and easily fits into those books which Plato and other great exponents of moralist criticism, notably T.S. Elliot and Moliere, would easily commend and recommend for their moral orientation. No doubt, it is loaded with sound philosophies capable of contributing in the positive transforming of the society.  As Charles Nnolim has rightly noted in this regard : 

Every short story, every novel, every poem, every drama worth its salt as a work of art, has a thing or two to say about life, has a moral view of life it enunciates, has a philosophy of life that it imparts…. (Ridentem 6)

Kingsley Agubom’s Long Wait is, thus, admirably both socially and morally-relevant to its immediate Nigerian audience. 


Agubom’s Long Wait is a welcome addition to the growing body of socially-relevant novels by contemporary young Nigerian authors. It calls attention to the various problems associated with the current craze for “japa syndrome” among Nigerian youths. I strongly commend the author and, therefore, proudly recommend the novel to the general public.


Works Cited

Abrams, M.H. and G.G. Harpham, A Glossary of Literary Terms, 10th Edition. Cengage, 2012.

Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. Heinemann, 1958. 

Agubom, Kingsley Anosike. Long Wait. Kurious K. Agubom, 2024. 

Amadi, Elechi. The Concubine. Heinemann, 1966. 

Booth, Wayne. “Types of Narration”. Approaches to the Novel. Ed. Robert Scholes. Chandler, 1961: 273-290. 

Collier, Jeremy. “A Short View of the Immorality and Profaneness of the English Stage.” English Literary Criticism: Restoration and the Eighteenth Century. Ed. Samuel Hayes. Appleton-Century Crofts, 1963: 97-113.

Dorsch, T.S. Classical Literary Criticism. Penguin, 1965.

Eliot, Thomas S. “Tradition and the Individual Talent”. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. Ed. Vincent B. Leitch. Norton, 2001: 1092-1098.

Emeaba, Onuma Emeaba. A Dictionary of Literature. Inteks, 1987. 

Forster, E.. Aspects of the Novel. Harcourt Brace, 1927.

Frye Northrop, Sheridan Baker and George Perkins. The Harper Handbook to Literature. Harper and Row, 1985. 

Holy Bible (The): King James Version

Lubbock, Percy. “Picture, Drama and Point of View.” Approaches to the Novel. Ed. Robert Scholes. Chandler, 1961: 245-272. 

Maduka, Chidi T. “Personal Conversation”. University of Port Harcourt, 2012. 

Nnolim, Charles E. Ridentem Dicere Verum: Literature and the Common Welfare. Inaugural Lecture No. 8, University of Port Harcourt, 1988.

“What has Criticism Got to Do with It?” Remarks on his Conferment at National Order of Merit, Abuja, December 14, 2006. 

Nwahunanya, Chinyere. Literary Criticism, Critical Theory and Post-Colonial African Literature. Springfield, 2007.

Schorer, Mark “Technique as Discovery”. Approaches to the Novel Ed. Robert Scholes Chandler, 1961: 141-160. 

Trilling, Lionel. “Manners, Morals and the Novel.” Approaches to Novel. Ed. Robert Scholes. Chandler, 1961: 121-136. 

Ukagu, Christian Chidi. “Unpublished Lecture Note: LIT 401: Literary Theory and Criticism, Hezekiah University Umudi, 2021. 

Warren, Austin. “The Nature and Modes of Narrative Fiction”. Approaches to the Novel. Ed. Robert Scholes. Chandler, 1961: 5-23. 

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  • Ezeh Adaeze

    Jun 18th. 2024 11:51 am

    Lovely Piece👍Well detailed ❤️

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