Review 19: Sirocco Express by Tony Judge

Sirocco Express
by Tony Judge
Copyright: © 2008
189 Pages
$14.50 Paperback
$2.72 E-book
ISBN: 978-1-4092-0446-6

Traveling to foreign countries is not a pleasure I’ve ever experienced myself, but I have always enjoyed reading about it.  Christopher Isherwood and his writings about many trips to a war torn Germany remain at the top of the list of some of my favorite books.  I can now add author Tony Judge to that list. When I began reading Tony’s book, Sirocco Express, I was immediately captivated by the author’s use of description.  Here’s the very first line of the book:

The house lay so still and quiet that it seemed to be filled with cotton wool.

Lines like that in writing these days are very hard to come by.  We write what we know, because that’s what we’ve been told to do, and we know so little. Authors like William Faulkner and poet Emily Dickinson or Robert Frost had a true craft for writing those descriptive, yet simple, images that stay with you long after you’ve finished reading.  Judge indeed has that craft.

In the beginning, the reader is introduced to a young Nigerian boy named Adebayo who is perusing a copy of Treasure Island while waiting for the Reverend to arrive to tend to his ailing mother.  I immediately became intrigued with the story because it has a sense of mystery to it.  The young boy is dismissed from the room while the Reverend tends to his mother with prayer.  The first chapter ends with a strange feeling to it as if something odd has happened between Adebayo’s father and the Reverend after reviving his mother.  The author has done an excellent job of keeping you interested and wanting to know more.

The second chapter focuses on Adebayo being concerned about an article saying he shouldn’t read Conrad because of the way he depicts non-European characters.  Adebayo’s father tells the boys he should judge for himself what he wants to read.

His father’s advice on “free will” quickly becomes an anthem for the young boy who has fallen in love with 19th century London thanks to one author by the name of Charles Dickens.  During his first year of college, he becomes agitated with the possibility of his father losing his job and his family falling on hard times. For the dreamer in all of us, constantly pulled back into the realm of 9 to 5 jobs and a stack of bills that clog our dreams, Judge has penned some outstanding prose that is sure to inspire you to not give up:

When will you understand that you are invisible; that no one has the slightest interest in what you think, or feel or do?  You are as a grain of dust on the hide of an elephant.

I was instantly reminded of a line from a book that has stuck with me about how we lose our audience when our parents are gone, there is no one else that really truly cares about us and the things we do. It’s a wake up call for our young protagonist who is determined to see the world, that until now, he’s only read about. But the journey to his destination is not an easy one, as Adebayo  takes up traveling with people smugglers, armed only with a geography guidebook and his own journal. He is a reader, a writer-like many of us-stuck in an unforgiving reality with larger than life thoughts and dreams.  We add to our own personal world through observation of new places and things, which is just what Adebayo sets out to do.

Sirocco Express is a brilliant tale of one man’s determination to fulfill his dreams.  His journey echoes of the realization of how we let things stand in our way of achieving what we really want, even if it’s just to see a foreign place we’ve only read about.  Adebayo constantly witnesses the oppression of his country and people during his quest, but he never gives up.

At only 189 pages, Judge’s book was a quick read but is packed with extensive research into Nigerian history and folklore, religion, and vivid geographical information that you will be Googling long after finishing this read.  The author has labeled it as a “contemporary novel about migration,” but it is much more than that.  It is a wholesome and heartfelt adventure that reminds me of the imaginative worlds and trips I discovered and fell in love with the first time I ever picked up a book.

One Response to “Review 19: Sirocco Express by Tony Judge”

  1. Many thanks to Shannon and everyone else associated with the Lulu Book Review. I’m very grateful for your considered comments on my book and for the chance to reach out to a wider readership.
    Keep up the great work!
    Tony Judge

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