The Premise: Ifiok is a young journalist working for Radio Sunrise, a government-sponsored station in Lagos. He wants to do the right thing but doesn’t really try very hard and, consequently, finds his life beset by complications; from the forced end to his radio drama to the appearance of a young and attractive intern, Ifiok really needs to be a little more morally proactive than he actually is.
Thoughts: Radio Sunrise is a really easy and quick read (under 200 pages), but one which introduces a range of more serious and complex topics. I’ve read a number of books set in Lagos recently, and the idea of corruption seems to be a running theme; as Ifiok makes one stupid decision after another (mainly involving an inability to keep his trousers on), it’s easy to question how much the circumstances that surround him have nurtured this behaviour.
My favourite part of the novel was the later section, when the opportunity to make a documentary about ex-militants takes Ifiok back to his parents’ home, where his lack of a wife is a serious concern. Ifiok’s moral hypocrisy in meeting and judging a woman who seems perfect aside from her mysteriously nice jewellery collection exposes the satirical nature of Isong’s novel, in which cultural ideas are skewered.
In Conclusion: for anyone wishing to read more diversely, Radio Sunrise is a good pick; it’s short but interesting and engaging, and its setting and themes create some nice intersections with other recent novels, like Chibundu Onuzo’s Welcome to Lagos, which came out around the same time. I think the blurb’s description of Radio Sunrise as “hilarious” is pushing it a bit, but it is an entertaining and rewarding read.