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A Book for Corporate Nigeria: A Review of Eriye Onagoruwa’s Dear Alaere

Like it or not, office politics is a reality. No matter the organisation you work, office drama, gossip, politics and a toxic work environment can be overwhelming. While you may not know where to get guidance on how to tackle them, Dear Alaere by Eriye Onagoruwa creatively takes a look at one particular aspect of life and living that not many authors write about – work-life balance.

Eriye Onagoruwa’s 2020 debut novel is a hilarious work of fiction about career, professional life, marriage and the unexpected challenges of life in one of Nigeria’s populous cities, Lagos. The 225-page novel with a beautiful cover captures the reality of many corporate climes. The reader will see the story of the Nigerian woman in the workplace, the hustle and bustle of the city of Lagos, and the big almost-overwhelming presence of patriarchy even in professional environments. Dear Alaere is written in an entertaining yet relatable and didactic way that can teach you a lot about the typical Corporate Nigeria.

Through Alaere’s eyes, you would see the unending traffic, the road rage and an impressive glimpse into Lagos living. Most of the characters in the book were believable although some seem somewhat exaggerated yet humorous. With drops of Nigerian Pidgin English and Yoruba, its intense episodic plot and epistolary style, Dear Alaere has the likelihood of holding the interest of anyone especially because of the possibility of seeing one’s reality in it.

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This novel opens with a diary entry of Alaere, who doubles as the narrator. She is a working-class Ijaw lady married to a Yoruba man, ‘Laja. The reader meets her as a legal and compliance officer at Neuterone where she encounters office politics and a lot of drama. She later gets a new job at a multinational company, Criole, but it does not take long for her to see that Criole is not different from her previous place of work.

At home, she begins to have problems when she and her husband experience difficulties having children and their situation is aggravated by her mother-in-law who tries to marry a 15-year-old virgin for ‘Laja, her husband. As she navigates a balance between her work and marriage, Alaere finds peace in her diary entries.

In Dear Alaere, you will also encounter the issues of domestic violence, entitlement mentality, the longing of to have children at all odds, male chauvinism, nepotism, polygamy, misconception of the African culture, among many others. The novel indeed packs a punch.

With Eriye Onagoruwa’s ability to bring her characters alive so vividly and at the same time pass numerous messages, the most poignant lesson from this book—for me—is the encouragement not to give up despite the obstacles and struggles of life. Dear Alaere can best be described in 3 E’s – easy to read, emotional and entertaining. I will recommend this book to everyone who wants to work, is working or has ever worked in Corporate Nigeria.

Title of the Book: Dear Alaere
Publisher: Paperworth Books
Year of Publication: 2020
Number of pages: 225 Pages
Category: Fiction

About the reviewer

Titilade Oyemade is a business execute in a leading organisation and holds a degree in Russian Language. She’s the convener of the Hangoutwithtee Ladies Event and the publisher of Hangoutwithtee magazine. She spends her weekends attending women conferences, events and book readings. She loves to have fun and to help other women have the same in their lives. Email: Social: @tiipree

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