By Anote Ajeluorou
In a move widely seen in the literary circle to be radical and refreshing and a break from the norm, innovative publishing outfit, Kachifo Limited, owners Farafina imprint has announced Benin City-based medical doctor and author, Dr. Eghosa Imasuen as its Chief Operating Officer (COO). The announcement was made by his predecessor, Yona Oyegiun-Masade, who will now be Managing Editor.
There was a certain buzz of excitement about two weeks ago when Emasuen first made the announcement to a group of literary enthusiasts at Freedom Park, Lagos at a Champagne Party in memory of late Chinua Achebe. Ever playful and jovial, Imasuen had said medicine no longer paid and he was moving onto something more exciting and, rewarding, too. Oyegun-Masade’s announcement this week is final confirmation that Emasuen would have to relocate to Lagos for his new job, a city he frequents with keen regularity for his literary interests.
Imasuen was born on May 19, 1976, and grew up in Warri. He has had his short fiction published in online magazines, and has written articles for Farafina magazine. His first novel, To Saint Patrick, an alternate history, murder mystery about Nigeria's civil war, was published by Farafina in 2008 to critical acclaim.
He was a member of the ‘9 Writers 4 Cities Book Tour’ that was concluded in early June 2009; it was a book tour that gave Nigeria’s literary space a huge boost, as it eventually saw the emergence of other book-stimulating events. A medical doctor, Imasuen graduated from the University of Benin, Benin City in 1999 – and has lived in Benin City with his wife and twin sons. His second novel, Fine Boys, a story chronicling the voices of Nigeria's post-Biafra generation, is now available internationally on Amazon Kindle and in local bookshelves.
So, what would Imaseun’s new portfolio bring to the table of Nigeria’s book lovers? No doubt, he has distinguished himself as a writer of promise on the local turf, especially in an age when Farafina and other local, innovative publishing players overtly only take on published authors from outside Nigerian shores. He proved to be the exception to that infamous rule when Farafina accepted to published To Saint Patrick in 2008, although it was a poorly edited book.
Indeed, a myriad of problems beset the publishing industry, especially fiction publishing where Farafina has made a name for itself. Would Imaseun look the way of local writers and give them opportunity the way he had it? In era of new media and ebook (Fine Boys first appeared in Kindle edition), what new frontier would Imasuen take Farafina? Also, Farafina was not always in major book exhibition and festival grounds.
Importantly, how available would Farafina books be in the few bookshops across Nigeria? His first novel, To Saint Patrick long ran of circulation and no new copies were printed. While Imasuen and Farafina probably felt happy that the first print run ran out, a measure of complacency set to create a gap in circulation. Presumably, pirates might have moved in to fill the gap if the novel had been a school text, luckily or unluckily, it was not.
So, while congratulating Imasuen, he should be aware that he has his job cut out for him in towing the towering path of Christopher Okigbo, as author and book administrator, as pathfinder!