Seesaw by Timothy Ogene

Seesaw is a novel about a Nigerian writer whose failing novel is discovered by a white American woman who suggests he apply to the William Blake Program for Emerging Writers in Boston. Frank leaves Port Jumbo for America, where it becomes apparent he is expected to be an ‘African’ writer and talk about post-colonialism, and Frank doesn’t want to be the stereotype, but being expelled turns out to be quite helpful for a writing career.

The book is both a satire of literary culture and what is expected of authors, and the story of a somewhat lost man finding direction. It is told with hindsight, and the pacing wasn’t quite what I expected, but I liked the parts that paralleled Frank’s experiences with what he later uses in his reinvigorated career commenting on America. There was also some good light-hearted mockery of academic and literary language and how it can both mean nothing and specific things. Because Frank was the narrator, a lot of the book was more focused on what he did and saw than these elements, and for me I would’ve preferred more of them.

A comic novel about a writer going in a strange journey to and around America, Seesaw is a light read that still delves into cultural difference and what diversity in literature really means, albeit in a satirical way.