Life Turns Man Up and Down is a rare window into understanding modern African history, from the point of view of average people living during a time of rapid social change. It is a snapshot of the transformation of African cities, and African literature, and as such, the book is a treasure., Tanu T. Henry

Of course, no book this fall is as unexpected, or as unexpectedly delightful, as Life Turns Man Up and Down (Pantheon), a sampler of African market literature selected by Kurt Thometz.
    L.A. Times. David L. Ulin. Between the Covers.
    Fall Books Offer Compelling Works of Emotional Depth. Sept. 12, 2001

This anthology, "Life Turns Man Up and Down: High Life, Useful Advice and Mad English," displays these often funny and always fascinating artifacts -- sexy stories like "Why Harlots Hate Married Men and Love Bachelors" and "Why I Killed My White Lover" to more contemplative offerings like "Sayings of the Wise" and a play called "The Statements of Hitler Before the World War." These chapbooks have the spirit of creativity, exuberance and adventure of a popular forum that offered an exchange of ideas and desires for every man. Sept. 20, 2001

It's worth noting that the booklets are wonderfully reproduced in the original typefaces and with the occasional illustration intact. More than that, however, the paper has the appearance and color of vintage newsprint, making it the most aesthetically pleasing book to come out of a major publishing house in a long time. As a physical object, it is a joy to read. Thometzís book isnít the first such collection of market literature to appear upon our shores, but it is a welcome insight into this underappreciated written tradition and it provides a wonderful insight into the commingling of culture and technology.
    Phildelphia City Paper. book quarterly.
    The World Writ Small: Little books mean a lot in Life Turns Man Up and Down.
    Andrew Ervin. September 27-October 4, 2001.

Documenting the adaptation of an oral culture to literacy and modernization, these stories, moral guides, and how-to manuals were both lively and confusing, written in an exuberant pidgin called Mad English and littered with felicitous nonsense.
    The New Yorker. Briefly Noted. Oct. 8, 2001.

The book is a riot of poetry thatís as sublime as it is often accidental. Befitting the work of a rare bookman, Life Turns Man Up and Down is as fun to hold as it is to read. At Thometzís insistence, it evokes and reproduces the look and even a bit of the feel of the original pamphlets, the jumbled typefaces and darling illustrations and off-color paper stock. Itís a beautiful production.
    New York Press, Publishing.
    John Strausbaugh. High Life & Mad English. Nov. 28, 2001.

"Their literature is one of the rare occasions where the introduction of the Word to a primarily oral society is laid bare in print," private librarian Kurt Thometz, who selected the entries, writes in a fascinating essay. What's more, Life Turns Man Up and Down is the most beautifully designed book of the year.
    The Austin Chronicle 12.21.01

This anthology of Nigerian "market literature" -- pulp pamphlets, now collectors' items, that were sold in open-air markets until the 1960's -- is a wild excursion into the collective unconscious of an emerging nation.
    New York Times. Books in Brief: Life Turns Man Up and Down. Eric P. Nash. 12.30.01.

The first thing you'll notice when you pick up this collection of 1960s African market literature from the eastern Nigerian town of Onitsha is that it's a virtual riot: the outlandish, overgrown, even incomprehensible language (dubbed "Mad English" or "Young English"); the bizarre cover art and fractured typography (replicated here in irresistible facsimiles); the hodgepodge of literary genres and styles (from romance and adventure to moral instruction); the bold pen names of authors like Okenwa Olisah (a/k/a "Your Popular Author, The Strong Man of the Pen" and "Master of the Universe"), or C.N.O. Moneyhard, or the writer simply known as Speedy Eric.
    Village Voice. Riot Lit. Anderson Tepper. Jan. 2-8, 2002.

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