Nearly All the Men in Lagos Are Mad: Smut or Not?

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When a friend’s review of this book called it “smut”, I wasn’t repulsed, I was low-key impressed. Which Nigerian writer has the courage to write smut? In a conservative  country like Nigeria, sex and the erotic are taboo topics. Writers don’t do erotica, except under the blankets of weightier issues. I was very excited to see a Nigerian writer pull Anaïs Nin- type weight, but after reading the book twice, I have to ask, was it really smut?

 

First, let’s talk language. For those who don’t know, smut is a work in which sex is described in a graphic, vulgar or dirty tone, so calling a book smut is first a language thing. Personally, the language of the book was not as nasty as I expected. Although there are really vivid descriptions of sex in the book (Kuku’s descriptive game is fire, for someone who just started writing books. She’s an actress, so I am not surprised) and the verb “fuck” was used, it had a naked but poetic tone to it’s sex scenes, which is not how smut works. It was not bad enough for the “smut” label. I’ve read worse.

 

Next, theme. I think the book was  a grand idea- an unpretentious, refreshing view of Lagos women, of Nigerian women, as fearless and brazen, with sexual desires, as opposed to the complacent, virtuous women often portrayed in Nollywood movies. At the beginning, we see her do that with Isioma, the Nigerian almost -Lorena-Bobbitt who must explain herself to her inlaws. However, when we get to Evelyn, we have questions, as we see a Mummy G.O constructing an alibi for her husband with an acute case of the Madonna-Whore complex. In all, the women either are “strong” with a hint of weakness or weak women who come out strong.

 

In discussing the characters, it is important to see the book for what it really is- a collection of short stories about the experiences of men and women in Lagos. Specifically, the experiences of women with men in Lagos. It does show us different types of men that could exist in Lagos- the ones with poverty mentality, Mommy’s boys, the sex gods, gigolos,  heartbreakers who are ridiculously good in bed, men with weird fetishes, alternative sexualities, even the notable “oyibo” , and the women that have to keep up with them. There are so many characters and settings, so there isn’t much time to give any of them “depth”. Come on, cut her some slack, it’s her first time writing.

 

There are a few other notable things we need to talk about. One is the reference to sexual psychopathology (the Oedipus and Madonna -Whore complexes) which makes for a pretty intellectual read. Another is her genius use of the second person singular, “You” with almost every story. It is a good psychological trick and it makes the book relatable in a very profound way.

 

In my opinion, I don’t think the book is smut. Erotica at best. I still cannot get over her bravery. I must say the book is good for a first book.

 

Sometimes, you have to allow yourself to see sense in nonsens

 

 

 

References 

1. Damilare Kuku, “Nearly All the Men in Lagos Are Mad, (2021) Masobe Books

2. TVC, Damilare Kuku: Why I Wrote “Nearly All the Men in Lagos Are Mad” November 10, 2021, https://youtu.be/V2HfrBa1l_I,  accessed July 27, 2022

3.Kenure, Nneoma,”Review: Nearly All the Men in Lagos Are Mad, The Women in Lagos are Just as Crazy, https://republic.com.ng/december-21-january-22/nearly-all-men-lagos/,  January 21, 2022, accessed July 18, 2022.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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