SUMMARY Black Sunday 107

CHARACTERS Black Sunday

SUMMARY Black Sunday 107 ï Following the fate of one family over the course of two decades in Nigeria this debut novel tells the story of each sibling’s search for agency love and meaning in a society rife with hypocrisy but also endless life“I like the idea of a god who knows what it’s like to be a twin To have no memory of ever being alone”Twin sisters BibIshing intimacy and wry attention to the fickleness of fate Tola Rotimi Abraham’s Black Sunday takes us into the chaotic heart of family life tracing a line from the euphoria of kinship to the devastation of estrangement In the process it joyfully tells a tale of grace and connection in the midst of daily oppression and the constant incursions of an unremitting patriarchy This is a novel about two young women slowly finding over twenty years in a place rife with hypocrisy but also endless life and love their own distinct methods of resistance and paths to independenc. Black Sunday is a powerhouse of postcolonial feminist literature and a devastatingly deft coming of age tale set against the humid backdrop of Lagos Nigeria charting both the country and a family's evolution from 1996 2015 Tola Rotimi Abraham’s debut novel follows twin girls and their brothers through abject poverty abandonment and loss as they lose everything but each other Once their mother loses her job and their father makes a “bet” that leaves them penniless all four siblings are sent to live with their Yoruba grandmother and must learn to navigate life without their parents This novel explores kinship patriarchy misogyny abuse exploitation and making ends meet love and loss and what it means to be all alone even with siblings by your side Throughout the story it becomes apparent that sometimes what is left unsaid is even important than what is being discussed Religion also plays a substantial part in the novel with each character having a different perspective on Christianity and Abraham discusses it in relation to feminism and postcolonialism and in particular in regard to African women The interplay between all of these political societal and personal issues the author addresses makes this a superb and deeply thought provoking book with a well constructed plot and characters that come alive on the pages as well as being nuanced and relatable yet have experienced unimaginable trauma Many thanks to Canongate for an ARC

Tola Rotimi Abraham ¿ 7 SUMMARY

Following the fate of one family over the course of two decades in Nigeria this debut novel tells the story of each sibling’s search for agency love and meaning in a society rife with hypocrisy but also endless life“I like the idea of a god who knows what it’s like to be a twin To have no memory of ever being alone”Twin sisters Bibike and Ariyike are enjoying a relatively comfortable life in Lagos in 1996 Then their mother loses her job due to political strife and the family facing poverty becomes drawn into the New Church an institution led by a charismatic pa. I did not believe in love in marital love in righteous men or justicethis book is cold and sharp but it’s a little janky in its construction i’ve had a pretty good track record with nigerian fiction so i was really looking forward to this debut HOWEVER while there are many positive aspects to applaud like its compelling themes strong writing about uncomfortable topics and some admirably unflinching character work—rich and complex individuals with all of their flaws on display the way the novel was structured kept pulling me out of the narrative and ultimately left me struggling to see it as a fully realized novel rather than a series of occurrences that only occasionally communicated with each other the story is told in the alternating first person POV experiences of four siblings; twin sisters and their two younger brothers taking place over the course of 19 years as their family experiences financial hardships and they are abandoned first by their mother and shortly thereafter by their father leaving them in the care of their grandmother the book depicts their individual struggles on their paths to adulthood however the time spent with the characters is uneven—the novel is broken up into four big chunks in which each sibling is given their own smaller chunk until the fourth and final chunk which is sisters only no boys allowed i’m not sure why the brothers were left out of the final part but even when they were present the sisters’ stories are prominent and interesting and the brothers’ voices weren’t really well differentiated; they kind of blurred into one male blob for me much so than the sisters who were you know actually twins i also had difficulty with the time jumps they were a bit disorienting and i found myself struggling with trying to pinpoint the characters’ ages and also struggling with how these stories fit together into one cohesive story it reads very episodic there’s very little interaction between the siblings and not much overlap between their stories there are some similarities between the sisters’ stories centered around the specific difficulties females experience but there’s no clear through line here it almost reads like an outline of a novel missing all the transitional bits and narrative connectivitythere’s a lot of meat here to chew on poverty based hardships predatory men transactional relationships religion and hypocrisy abuse of power weakness and ruthlessness but it felt discordant—a series of small meat plates rather than a satisfying or focused mealhowever there are some gut punch moments that are absolutely worth your timeI was a parentless teenage girl living with my grandmother in the slums of Lagos Beauty was a gift but what was I to do with it It was fortunate to be beautiful and desired It made people smile at me I was used to strangers wishing me well But what is a girl’s beauty but a man’s promise of reward What was my beauty but a proclamation of potential an illusion of choiceAll women are owned by someone some are owned by many; a beautiful girl’s only advantage is that she may get to choose her owner If beauty was a gift it was not a gift to me I could not eat my own beauty I could not improve my life by beauty alone I was born beautiful I was a beautiful baby It did not change my life I was a beautiful girl Still my life was ordinary But a beautiful woman was another type of thing I had waited too long to choose my owner dillydallying in my ignorance and so someone chose me What was I to do about thatso not outta the park just yet but definitely a writer to watch come to my blog

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Black SundayStor who is not shy about worshipping earthly wealth Soon Bibike and Ariyike’s father wagers the family home on a “sure bet” that evaporates like smoke As their parents’ marriage collapses in the aftermath of this gamble the twin sisters and their two younger siblings Andrew and Peter are thrust into the reluctant care of their traditional Yoruba grandmother Inseparable while they had their parents to care for them the twins’ paths diverge once the household shatters Each girl is left to locate guard and hone her own fragile source of power Written with aston. I really enjoyed this cleverly structured narrative following four siblings in Lagos Nigeria The movement between perspective and shifts in time reminded me a little of that structure in Homegoing though we kept returning to each of the siblings as time advanced in this one In terms of plot I loved how full circle the narrative was and did not see at all how things would be wrapped up always love being surprised by a narrative I think I enjoyed reading Ariyike's chapters the most based on her plot progression and how much strength is written into her character As a collective though the twin sisters and two younger brothers provide an interesting narrative on connection and estrangement class and poverty politics and social machinations and finding oneself within all of this I was uickly invested within this story and cast of characters the prose was superb and I look forward to by Tola Rotimi AbrahamMany thanks to Catapult for sending an advance copy of this my way