From Publishers Weekly
Blind acceptance splinters a polygamous marriage in Shoneyin's gripping debut set in modern-day Nigeria. Bolanle Alao, the newest and youngest of Baba Segi's wives, threatens to upset the balance of power--she is educated and beautiful, though naïve about the relationship dynamics among the other three wives in the house. Raped at 15, Bolanle considers herself disgraced and unwanted until Baba Segi, an overweight, malodorous businessman welcomes her into his family, no questions asked, until it seems she cannot conceive. Like the other wives, she feels she has been saved by Baba Segi, who accepts all of them politely, but beyond brief mentions of his sexual encounters and visits to the toilet, Baba Segi is a peripheral character. When greedy Iya Segi and Iya Femi plot to run young, sweet Bolanle out of the family, the result is disaster. It is Bolanle's unexpected submissiveness that leads her and her husband to uncover a secret that forces him to assert his control over the family. Shoneyin masterfully disentangles four distinct stories, only to subtly expose what is common among them.
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A Rabelaisian picture of polygamous marriage,comically capturing the physical realities of ordinary Nigerian life. -- Giles Foden A funny and moving story told with love and compassion ... a jewel of a novel -- Petina Gappah Riotous... this debut novel is a real eye-opener: a deft, compelling and unsettling tale. -- Ailin Quinlan Irish Examiner This deft, lightly spun story packs quite a punch. Shoneyin's unravelling of a family is rooted in and flavoured by Nigeria, but speaks more widely. It is a book you'll want to eat in a sitting - and then start again -- Diran Adebayo This first novel is a compelling, unsettling tale of a polygamous household and the women within Baba Segi's walls. Shoneyin's sharply written portrait of a family and a nation gripped by the past, yet surging into modernity, manages to be funny, disconcerting and violent all at once. An utterly gripping read. -- Patricia Duncker A rich debut... an engrossing and beautifully written domestic tale of polygamy and rivalry set in her native Nigeria. Harper's Bazaar Riveting... a truly compelling tale... -- Davina Morris The Voice An engrossing portrayal of a polygamous household... a rich portrait of a family on the verge of collapse. -- Yasmin Sulaiman The List An insightful and compelling tale set within a polygamous household Pride A novel of clamorous intensity. With such Chaucerian tumult, one expects comedy and there is certainly some humour here, but much pain too... Shoneyin's language is that of a poet, both extravagant and exact... Well-structured and with a gratifying resolution. -- Jane Housham Guardian Exquisitely written... Shoneyin's prose is by turns violent, evocative, witty, humane and gripping. -- Danuta Kean Mslexia A bodacious first novel -- Bernadine Evaristo Wasafiri
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