If you are Kenyan and you make a small effort to read. Even just a newspaper, you’ve probably spotted Jackson Biko’s writing. I have been a fun of Biko’s writing for the longest time. I guess since 2016 when I started reading his blog pots almost religiously. Needless to say, I am a huge fun. Thursdays is his second book, his first being Drunk. Both are light books, 167 and 217 pages consecutively, which I am starting to think is just his thing. Enough about Biko and Drunk.
Thursdays is a small book with, ironically, a series of stories and characters colliding throughout the narration. The main story revolves around starving artists, a band called Vina Wira , a guy, Ruto, who perpetually contributes to their starvation, and another man who just might be the source of their breakthrough. Vina Wira is made of four starkly personalities. Halima, the soul of the band and lead vocalist. JP, the life of the band and bass guitarist. Mwendwa, the weak link, but also the songwriter and Jared, the drummer and glue of the band.
The band is struggling. Every Thursday they play in the streets of Nairobi, outside a building that houses a recording label they hope will sign them, give them their big break. At night, they play in a shady bar overlooking a junkyard with dismembered vehicles. They are hungry to make it. But will the universe share in their hunger?
The characters lead different lives outside the band and struggle with other life issues. It was interesting to follow how their lives unfolded throughout the story and I was eager to find out whether or not their search for a big break would eventually pay off. Biko also brings out issues such as mental health, parent-child conflicts, career versus passion and the toils of struggling artists among others through the lives of the four characters.
The band is half good. We have seen worse, to be honest. Their musical composition is creative and original but when you think they are about to wow you by taking it to the next level, they leave you high and dry. Of course this is no fault of the band members, but the fact that they haven’t defined who they are and what they are about.
Maybe they also should consider changing names, otherwise playing at Rugged Hut feels like playing in a cave in Kandabar.
** (Two Stars)
What I did not like about Thursdays is the ending which I found very underwhelming. Also, the story seemed rushed as the book has the potential of being developed further as it leaves the reader with a lot of questions. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate a good cliffhanger, but there was something about this one that did not just sit right.
Thursdays is an easy read and would be a perfect book to get one out of a reading slump. Biko’s style of writing is easy, animated and humorous, making Thursdays an overall interesting read.