Allwell-Brown, Kalango, others commend Horsfall’s historical narratives
Terra Kulture library and bookstore was filled to the brim with a select audience recently, when Port Harcourt-based corporate player and writer, Mrs. Titi Horsfall, read from her latest novel, Influence of a King. Her first novel, From an Orphan to a Queen Esther, also had a spotlight as participants read from both books to make the book reading event interactive and engaging. Both novels are faith-based historical narratives. Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), Lagos Chapter, organised Horsfall’s reading in collaboration with Terra Kulture, Victoria Island, Lagos.
Horsfall’s reading event had the making of a red carpet reception, with a lot of TV interviews and press coverage. Also, a four-man Precious Omuku musical group added a harmonic, classical orchestral intermission with its sonorous renditions.
Chairperson of the book event, CEO of Rainbow Book Club and Project Manager, Port Harcourt World Book Capital (PHWBC) 2014, Mrs. Koko Kalango, expressed excitement at being part of the event and commended Horsfall’s thoroughness in accomplishing things.
According to her, “I look up to writers. I appreciate just how much energy, time and thoughts that go into writing. I have worked with Titi and I respect her commitment to her craft. I worked with her on The Walking Book at PHWBC; she was thorough in her work. She was just so dedicated and I was touched. She is a gifted writer; she takes history and weaves into a story. Rainbow Book Club is proud to be associated with Titi. We adopted her first book as Book of the Month. It’s a great read that I encourage any time.”
Co-organiser ANA, Lagos Chapter chairman, Mr. Femi Onileagbon, also testified to Horsfall’s thoroughness as a writer and committed member of his association. As he put it, “Titi is a very thorough, determined and committed person,” and advised everyone to emulate her virtues. Onileagbon said although Horsfall’s fictional narratives are based on history, saying, however, “they are not historical rehash, as she turns them around creatively.”
Before she came on, a docu-profile was shown about how Horsfall approaches her writing craft, with Mr. Uche Izuorah reviewing the two novels.
From an Orphan to a Queen Esther is based on the story of the Jewish Esther who rose from being a slave girl to a queen in a foreign land. It is the story of God bestowing grace and benevolence on ordinary people through elevating them to positions of honour and royalty. Influence of a King follows the same narrative pattern, with an unknown, maligned girl rising from obscurity to wealth and the courts of England. It is also the story of Nigeria’s colonial history, World War II and love adventures and how God manipulates the universe to bring about certain improbable occurrences in the lives of those who trust in Him.
Moderating the reading session was Director, Calabar Study Centre of National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), Dr. Andee Iheme. Before she read, Horsfall expressed a heartfelt gratitude to those who had come to support her and, particularly, literature, and noted, “Writing is a complex activity and it drains your energy. Writing is a lonely venture and is very expensive”. She said the only affinity she bears with the heroine Kanyam in her second novel, Influence of a King, is that “I had a beautiful relationship with my father like Kanyam; I’m also a daughter of the Niger Delta, raised in Port Harcourt and from a riverine community.”
As historical fiction, Horsfall invests a lot of time researching her subjects and setting, something she said she owes to her curiosity as a traveller where museums are her favourite places to visit. “When I travel, the first place I go is the museum. I want to learn and then pass on what I’ve learnt,” she said.
First among the audience members to read was former TV broadcaster, Ms Siene Allwell-Brown. She remarked on Horsfall’s ingenuous literary skills and noted that if From an Orphan to a Queen Esther “is ‘something,’ then Influence of a King is another big ‘something,’” and expressed her fascination with Horsfall’s use of ‘alliteration’ in the novel as a form of musical airs that gives the novel piquancy and vibrancy.
Allwell-Brown continued, “Apart from the storyline, there’s the disparity between the hero and heroine. I’m one of those Christians who cannot say I woke up this morning and the holy spirit ministered unto me. Reading this book you understand that when God wants you for something, it doesn’t matter what you think. Also, the parts about the Niger Delta in the book are so familiar to me; it felt so good, so real, something I identify with, especially the boarding school – the provisions, sugar, milk, garri and so on. The book shows Titi has done her research. Then, when Titi got into her descriptive best, it’s simply amazing.”
Kalango couldn’t help play up Kanyam’s insistence on education and the spillover role it has in the novel and colonial Nigeria in transforming lives that would otherwise have remained backward.
According to her, “The role education plays in Kanyam’s life is strong; she was better able to connect with Chad because of colonial education. It enabled her to suggest a lawyer to mediate between her community and the oil companies for the benefit of her community.”
Mr. Salem Sallam unveiled the books. Other audience members who read from the two books were Pastor Tosin Kanmi-Onaniga, Kester Osahenye and Mr. Victor Eromosele, who described Influence of a King as “a very international book; it doesn’t look like a work produced by a Nigerian.”
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