So, to start I think it’s fair to say I wasn’t really looking forward to this. The blurb says *squints* From the Orange Prize-winning author of ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ come twelve dazzling stories that turn a penetrating eye on the ties that bind men and women, parents and children, Nigeria and the West.
Not the usually sort of thing I gravitate towards: I avoid anything that has won prestigious prizes like a rabid cow and that blurb just sounds like the worthiest, dreariest pile of tosh, like, ever.
Imagine my surprise, therefore, when I found myself actually quite enjoying it.
So, bit of background info: I’m white, I live in Essex and before reading this book couldn’t have even accurately told you where Nigeria was (Africa ... somewhere in the middle?). The author never ever infodumps and neither does she under-explain, but I can honestly say I now know approximately one billion times more about Nigeria now than I did before reading this 200-page book.
The book is a series of short stories, except they don’t really have story arcs, so I guess they’re more like vignettes. Little glimpses into peoples lives. The author is very concise with her language, getting a lot of information across with a minimum of words.
In a way, the blurb is right. This is a book that explores the relationships between men and women, women and children, Nigeria and the West. What the blurb fails to tell us, though, is how totally readable this book is. HarperCollins, you need to have a bit of a word with your publicity department. They’re not doing a great job. This book is about all those things listed above, but it’s also about immigration, racism, cultural expectations, feminism, misogyny, death, faith and a hundred other things. And at no point does the author ever tell us what she considers to be right or wrong. She just ... shows us stuff. And then she closes that story down and moves onto the next one.
So yeah. If your book club suggests that you try this book, don’t silently sigh and groan and roll your eyes and wish you were reading the next Sarah J Maas. Just read it. You might be surprised.