Love’s Affliction by Fidelis O. Mkparu, book review
Love’s Affliction by Fidelis O. Mkparu narrates on the experiences of Joseph Fafa. After he arrived in North Carolina in 1977 to attend college, he thought he had left violence behind in his native Nigeria, where the Biafran War claimed two members of his family. What he wasn’t expecting was to be attacked because his skin color was different than that of the young woman he was dating. In North Carolina, Joseph learns that being able to speak the “King’s English” doesn’t guarantee he’ll know when he is being insulted in the local vernacular—as when a young Southern black woman calls him an “Uncle Tom” for dating a white woman.
So long as the relationship between Joseph and the beautiful ballerina Wendy Crane is strictly platonic, her wealthy and powerful family is willing to be tolerant. But when it becomes clear that Wendy wishes to take her friendship with the ambitious and high-achieving young premed student to a more intimate level, her father’s instincts as a Southern man of property and importance kick into high gear. James Crane lets Joseph know that he doesn’t mind the Nigerian dating American women—just so long as the woman isn’t his daughter. And when Joseph follows the advice of his heart and continues dating Wendy, he learns, too late, just how tenuous institutional promises can be. When Joseph’s acceptance into the college of medicine and promise of a scholarship are rescinded, he has only to read the name of the institution that has closed its doors to him: the Crane-University Medical Center.
But even with Wendy, Joseph finds little peace. She is jealous of the attentions Joseph gave the beautiful Francesca after Wendy decamped the racial storms of North Carolina for France. And even though Francesca dumped him for a career as a swimsuit model, Wendy still distrusts the attention Joseph receives from Gina McRee, who may take her role as the foreign student’s mentor as being more than “sisterly.”
Love’s Affliction tells the story of the three years Joseph Fafa of Nigeria spends in premed studies at a North Carolina college and how his love for the beautiful and talented daughter of a prestigious Southern family nearly destroys his dreams of becoming a doctor. When, twenty-nine years later, Joseph and Wendy’s paths cross again, they are able to look through past pains and misconceptions and accept their youthful love for what it was, a flare of illumination sparked by the clash between two cultures, leaving each of them better, wiser people.