Monday, 14 September 2020

Book Review: My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite, narrated by Weruche Opia

My Sister, the Serial Killer My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite,  narrated by Weruche Opia
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved this book, listening to the audio I felt re-submersed in Nigeria, the culture, the colour, the language, the way women are with their hair, their clothes and with the relationships between Nigerian women and Nigerian men, be they fathers or lovers or predators. For many dependency still rules, for many the man still rules hard in the home, for many the route to education and success has many obstacles. Sisters Korede and Ayoola have and always will have only each other, it is a beyond sisterly bond ++++SPOILER ALERT ****forged in the darkness of a hinted at, but never fully enunciated, episode which straddled the domestic and business worlds where a girl child is safeguarded at all costs until the price or prize is too great to ignore, the business deal worth too much.

We know from the beginning, indeed from the title, that Ayoola, the beautiful, is a killer, a serial killer, prone to knocking off her suitors. The novel opens with the line “Korede, I killed him.” We quickly find out that Korede her elder, plainer sister, helps clean up her mess and is complicit in body disposal of at least one of Ayoola's victims. The true extent of her involvement becomes apparant only as the book progresses. But who really is the victim here, and a victim of what? Who is exploiting who? The story line answers these questions in part and leaves the reader pondering them further even at the end of the book.

The novels oscillates rapidly in its scences, its chapters are small, tiny compare with what is more usual length. But the characters are just as full, their story just as powerful - Karode's father confessor type relationship with the comatose Muhtar, her admiration and love for Tade, the doctor and her fruitless attempts to keep her work life, and Dr Tade, apart from her home life and her sister. She is an extremely competent woman, used to thinking on her feet, handling the bureaucracy and corruption of Nigerian officials, dealing with and managing all types - skills you feel she learnt at a very early age from her dodgy deals father.

This is begging to be made into a movie under the deft hands of a good scriptwriter who gets the sharp humour, the situational comedy, but also its serious sociopolitical backdrop and, not least, the psychological profile of each of the sisters and their unique bond. As a first novel I though this was excellent and no surprise that it was longlisted for the 2019 Booker.


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