Black Sunday
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 pastor 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 astonishing 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 independence.

Black Sunday Details

TitleBlack Sunday
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseFeb 4th, 2020
PublisherCatapult
ISBN-139781948226561
Rating
GenreFiction, Cultural, Africa, Western Africa, Nigeria, Historical, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Literature, African Literature

Black Sunday Review

  • karen
    January 1, 1970
    I did not believe in love, in marital love, in righteous men or justice.this 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 I did not believe in love, in marital love, in righteous men or justice.this 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 more prominent (and more interesting), and the brothers’ voices weren’t really well-differentiated; they kind of blurred into one male blob for me, much more 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 connectivity.there’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 meal.however, there are some gut-punch moments that are absolutely worth your time:I 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 choice?All 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 that?so, not outta the park just yet, but definitely a writer to watch. come to my blog!
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  • Jerrie (redwritinghood)
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 The story of four siblings in Lagos who are abandoned by their parents and live with their grandmother had some excellent voices from the four characters. Unfortunately, there didn’t seem to be any kind of plot. 3.5⭐️ The story of four siblings in Lagos who are abandoned by their parents and live with their grandmother had some excellent voices from the four characters. Unfortunately, there didn’t seem to be any kind of plot.
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  • BookOfCinz
    January 1, 1970
    Black Sunday is Tola Rotimi Abraham's debut novel, set in Lagos, Nigeria. The book follows the fate of a Nigerian family as they go from enjoying a comfortable life to falling into poverty. Set in the 90s we meet a family of 6- mother, father, twin sisters Bibike and Ariyike and their two younger brothers-Andrew and Peter. Life for them is comfortable, they don't have much to worry about as their mother is the secretary of a political figure in Nigeria. With a change in government their mother Black Sunday is Tola Rotimi Abraham's debut novel, set in Lagos, Nigeria. The book follows the fate of a Nigerian family as they go from enjoying a comfortable life to falling into poverty. Set in the 90s we meet a family of 6- mother, father, twin sisters Bibike and Ariyike and their two younger brothers-Andrew and Peter. Life for them is comfortable, they don't have much to worry about as their mother is the secretary of a political figure in Nigeria. With a change in government their mother loses her job and is forced to do jobs below her standing. The father is a dreamer, of little help and is constantly thinking of get rich schemes. It is through one of these "business ventures" that the father uses the family home as collateral because a Charismatic Pastor says so. In losing the family home, everything crashes including the family structure, the comfort of having a home and pursuing an education. The mother leaves for a new life in the US, the father leaves the four children with his mother as he goes off to "provide for them". Life comes at these four children fast, they now face a new reality that were not prepared for. Black Sunday is told from the perspectives of the four children- twin sisters Bibike and Ariyike and their younger brothers Andrew and Peter. Over two decades we follow their lives through the different point of views. You get a somewhat unbiased look into each of their lives and how they are coping with their new reality. I really wanted to love this book. It had all the makings of a great novel for me: Set in NigeriaWritten by a black woman Follows the fall of a familyWe have different POVs involved- it had all the right ingredients but it just did not come together as I would have liked. I felt like there was entirely too much going on and not enough time/pages spent to develop the plot and characters. I did not get a sharp voice from each POV- each character sort of blended into the other. There was too much time spent on minor plots and characters that in the end did not contribute to the overall plot of main character development. It was a quick read and I wish the aforementioned items were taken care of. I did enjoy the read and I do recommend you give it a read yourself.
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  • Jaclyn (sixminutesforme)
    January 1, 1970
    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, 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 quickly invested within this story and cast of characters, the prose was superb, and I look forward to more by Tola Rotimi Abraham.Many thanks to Catapult for sending an advance copy of this my way.
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  • Catapult
    January 1, 1970
    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.
  • Kimberley
    January 1, 1970
    We meet Bibike and Ariyike as twin girls who've only recently entered their teenage years. While their family wouldn't be considered rich, they are comfortable--which is to say they have adequate shelter, consistent food on the table, and no real worries about their day-to-day lives. However, when their mother is fired from an esteemed government job, and forced into taking a lower-paying one, their fortunes take a turn for the worse; eventually leading to their father taking a big gamble on We meet Bibike and Ariyike as twin girls who've only recently entered their teenage years. While their family wouldn't be considered rich, they are comfortable--which is to say they have adequate shelter, consistent food on the table, and no real worries about their day-to-day lives. However, when their mother is fired from an esteemed government job, and forced into taking a lower-paying one, their fortunes take a turn for the worse; eventually leading to their father taking a big gamble on what turns out to be a losing proposition and sure financial ruin. With the family now broke and homeless, their mother flees for the states and, eventually, their father leaves as well; content to turn the raising of his four children over to his mother. A woman who can only be described as being full of old-school traditions and ancient ideas on child-rearing and building a proper support system. As a result, both Ariyike and Bibike are forced to abandon any girlish notions they had in favor of entering a world where their biggest asset is the beauty each of them possess.The format, at least for me, almost felt like a series of anecdotes. Each of the four siblings, at varying moments in time, gives a brief update on how his/her life has transformed as a result of their family's splintering so suddenly.Although we are treated most wholly to the lives of the twin sisters, we learn enough about Peter and Andrew to understand their fates are different. Regardless of the circumstances their lives began under, they are still young men of promise, and the world treats them as such. This is never more clear than when Andrew falls for a young girl at University. His actions towards her, as she is brutally assaulted by a group of opportunistic older boys, is another way in Abraham subtly speaks of how different the fortunes of women are in Nigeria. Particularly if they don't choose to live by the rules concocted by the male patriarchy. This was a common theme throughout. Men and their needs juxtaposed against the ambition/ambivalence of whatever woman they chose to target. In every situation--from the mother to the grandmother to the women who simply populated the landscape--it was clear the ability to succeed was tied to the fortune, or grace, of some man. While Ariyike comes to view male-female relationships as, in a sense, an exchange of goods and services, Bibike longs for the safety and trappings of family life.The implosion of her family, in a bizarre way, came to underscore the value of 1) not being financially beholden to anyone, but 2) still having people you can count on for emotional support when times get rough. By the end, the motives and motivations--behind the actions of both women--is clear, but the journey each takes to find her own measure of peace is fraught with self-doubt, self-sabotage, painful truths, and plenty of reflection. *Thank you to Edelweiss+ and Catapult Books for this Advanced Digital Copy.
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  • Lauren Mendez
    January 1, 1970
    Black Sunday by Tola Rotimi Abraham provided me a wide array of emotional experience including heartbreak, anger, frustration, shock, sorrow, and hope. Black Sunday is by no means an easy read, but it certainly is worthwhile.Black Sunday depicts how family is influenced by the complexities of wealth and identity within urban Nigeria. I found myself deeply invested in the children in this book, and hoping that all of their complications would be resolved, but alas, that is not how this story Black Sunday by Tola Rotimi Abraham provided me a wide array of emotional experience including heartbreak, anger, frustration, shock, sorrow, and hope. Black Sunday is by no means an easy read, but it certainly is worthwhile.Black Sunday depicts how family is influenced by the complexities of wealth and identity within urban Nigeria. I found myself deeply invested in the children in this book, and hoping that all of their complications would be resolved, but alas, that is not how this story goes. The depiction of twin sisters Bibike and Ariyike and their brothers Peter and Andrew, provide an opportunity for the reader to see different choices each sibling makes and how they attempt to process and survive abandonment. Both of the brothers are able to leave Nigeria and go to college within the United States to expand their opportunities. Bibike becomes a successful healer with a supportive partner and beloved daughter, while Ariyike chooses wealth and prestige, but lacks a loving marriage, and loses her relationship with her sister. All of the characters experience beauty and ugliness while finding their way in the world.This novel captivated me with such raw vulnerability and honestly about the painful realities of broken trust, gambling, and surviving. Black Sunday also highlights the realities of gendered violence toward female characters, and contains several explicit examples of sexual violence and assault. I would highly recommend this complex and thoughtful narrative. I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
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  • Katherine D. Morgan
    January 1, 1970
    CW: sexual assaultI finished this book two days and I still can’t figure out how I feel about it. It’s a very depressing book: I can’t even tell you if there’s a happy ending in it or not. I honestly don’t even know. There’s also a lot of sexual assault aspects to it. Like, a lot. And that made me extremely uncomfortable because I wasn’t expecting it. Honestly, this book rocked me. The writer did an excellent job. Just read with caution.
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  • Paula
    January 1, 1970
    Although this was a quick read, it was not an easy read for me. This is not a happy story, and was tough for me to read, and I’m not sure how to review this. I’ve read a lot of novels in recent years coming from African writers, and have enjoyed most of them. This is a different kind of novel, and it’s getting a lot of good press, and it is an interesting debut for this author. But honestly, I had a hard time connecting with it, and I’m not sure why. I found it rather incessantly depressing, Although this was a quick read, it was not an easy read for me. This is not a happy story, and was tough for me to read, and I’m not sure how to review this. I’ve read a lot of novels in recent years coming from African writers, and have enjoyed most of them. This is a different kind of novel, and it’s getting a lot of good press, and it is an interesting debut for this author. But honestly, I had a hard time connecting with it, and I’m not sure why. I found it rather incessantly depressing, which I expect from a novel about Africa, and it is understandable given both the patriarchy of the culture and the difficult lives of this family living in the ghettos of Lagos, Nigeria. There is a lot of sexual abuse, and a lot of joyless sex. The women are alternatively abused and yet also quickly learn to use sex as a way to get what they need to survive. No one in this family is happy, and despite the religious overtones interwoven throughout, I came away with a negative attitude toward the hypocrisy of Christianity in their culture, and little hope for the future of any of these characters. AND, this family had it a lot better than many, thanks to the grandmother who holds them together. We get a tiny bit of the Yoruba grandmother’s history right at the end, and it left me desperately wishing for more about her. There are lots of Yoruba phrases and poems throughout but few of them were translated. This story is told in separate narratives of two twin sisters and their two brothers, and frankly, I thought the brothers’ stories could have been greatly shortened. Instead, and in their place, I would like to have read a lot more about their Yoruba grandmother, who winds up raising these four kids when their parents abandon them. Her history and culture was far more interesting to me than those of the brothers. In such a short novel there were too many characters and side plots. I am not sorry I read this, but ultimately there was a bit too much going on with the four siblings, with loose ends untied (especially the brothers, whose stories we hear as children and then suddenly they are out of the picture). And again, it was the grandmother who interested me the most. (And as an aside, I stumbled over several typos in this novel, which I found very distracting, and so unusual in a published novel. That really bugged me.)
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  • Lilly Schmaltz
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to Catapult for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.Babike and Ariyike experience their lives change when their parents divorce and their household dissolves. They and their younger brother are placed in the care of their grandmother, a woman reluctant to raise them. Each must find a way to survive in the world and slowly lose each other in the process. Black Sunday was a powerful read for me. It follows the perspectives of the four children: the sisters, Thank you to Catapult for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.Babike and Ariyike experience their lives change when their parents divorce and their household dissolves. They and their younger brother are placed in the care of their grandmother, a woman reluctant to raise them. Each must find a way to survive in the world and slowly lose each other in the process. Black Sunday was a powerful read for me. It follows the perspectives of the four children: the sisters, and their younger brothers, Peter and Andrew. Each had different experiences and I could sense their internal struggles of finding their unique place in the world while trying to remain connected to their family. The story jumps in time to cover two decades. I was satisfied with the character development that could occur with the format of the story—it was like reading short anecdotes that eventually came together to create a fuller picture. I had to take several breaks from reading this. All readers should be aware that sexual assault and abuse were prevalent throughout the story. Some instances were more “subtle”, while others were graphic and required me to put the book down for some time. I did not expect a happy story. Black Sunday could be depressing at times, but more importantly, it showed the true resistance and grit of four children figuring out how to survive in an unjust world.
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  • Erin Ryan
    January 1, 1970
    A breezy beach read this is not. Bleak, bleak, bleak tragedy of the years-long unraveling of a family in Lagos. Abraham’s writing smarts like a sunburn, growing in intensity until its blistering conclusion. I can’t say this is a “satisfying” book; lots of loose ends go untied, and nobody ends up happy as far as the book says. Still, a confident first novel from a writer who surely has great things ahead for her.
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  • Leslie Lindsay
    January 1, 1970
    Painful wisdom...a fierce debut...a coming-of-age novel set in 1990s Nigeria (thru early 2000s) encompasses the lives of four siblings, financial ruin, estrangement, more. Twin sisters, Bibike and Ariyike (teens) are living a relatively comfortable life in Lagos, Nigeria with their mother, father, and two younger brothers, Andrew/Andy and Peter. It's 1996 and their mother loses her esteemed government job and is forced to take a lower-paying position as a teacher at a local school; the school Painful wisdom...a fierce debut...a coming-of-age novel set in 1990s Nigeria (thru early 2000s) encompasses the lives of four siblings, financial ruin, estrangement, more. Twin sisters, Bibike and Ariyike (teens) are living a relatively comfortable life in Lagos, Nigeria with their mother, father, and two younger brothers, Andrew/Andy and Peter. It's 1996 and their mother loses her esteemed government job and is forced to take a lower-paying position as a teacher at a local school; the school closes. The family takes solace in the New Church, lead by charismatic pastor who is fascinated by material wealth. But soon, the father makes a strange--and unfortunate--decision to give away the family home in hopes of reclaiming money. The marriage crumbles. The parents separate. The family moves in with the grandmother. And then the mother leaves. And shortly after, the father is gone, too, leaving four children in poverty with the grandmother. She is understandably reluctant to parent them, and yet very traditional in her Yoruba values and worldview. Told mostly in first person POV from each of the siblings's POV , BLACK SUNDAY (Catapult, Feb 4 2020) is told with astonishing intimacy about chaotic family life, boarding school, kinship, devastation, estrangement. It encompasses many dark, heavy, and uncomfortable truths--including hypocrisy, sexual assault, pregnancy/abortion, patriarchy, religion , and more. I felt the writing was good--but the narrative comes across as more anecdotes or vignettes , as if an adult looking back on her/his life and I might like to have seen it told in a more active manner, but this is all a matter of style and very subjective. BLACK SUNDAY is not a particularly happy to story , and I felt the grit and uncomfortable heat of Lagos , the yearning, the unanswered questions of these siblings. The end brings a muddled sense of justice, leaving the reader with a strange sense that these women finally found their agency, their own independence. There were times I was reminded of the writing of Toni Morrison (BLUEST EYE comes to mind), but BLACK SUNDAY is perhaps a completely different kind of read for me that I am having difficulty finding suitable comps, which is not at all a bad thing; I enjoy inhabiting new (to me) worlds. For all my reviews, including author interviews, please see: www.leslielindsay.com|Always with a Book. Special thanks to Catapult Books for this review copy. All thoughts are my own.
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  • Diane
    January 1, 1970
    Really fine writing and story.
  • Christine
    January 1, 1970
    I'd give this book a solid 3. I liked it and I never wanted to stop reading, but by the time I reached the end I felt two things: 1. there were too many people and things left to the imagination. That is, too many storylines with loose ends for my liking. 2. I wished that the author had given me more where the twins are concerned - that is, allowed me to like them more, or care more about what happens to them next.Having said that, this book packs a powerful punch. It's not light reading. I'd give this book a solid 3. I liked it and I never wanted to stop reading, but by the time I reached the end I felt two things: 1. there were too many people and things left to the imagination. That is, too many storylines with loose ends for my liking. 2. I wished that the author had given me more where the twins are concerned - that is, allowed me to like them more, or care more about what happens to them next.Having said that, this book packs a powerful punch. It's not light reading. There's abandonment, abuse (of all kinds), religious fanaticism disguised as kindness, relentless misogyny. Love and kindness exists in this book, but it is in short supply.I'd definitely read another by this author.
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  • Karlie Schaefer
    January 1, 1970
    "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."A great debut novel by Tola Rotimi Abraham. Taking place in nearly present-day Nigeria, Black Sunday is moving, eye-opening, tough, and also somehow calming all at once. I truly love to read stories about places I have never been, immersing myself in a life I could never imagine before reading it in a book. The chapters alternate narrators between all siblings of the same "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."A great debut novel by Tola Rotimi Abraham. Taking place in nearly present-day Nigeria, Black Sunday is moving, eye-opening, tough, and also somehow calming all at once. I truly love to read stories about places I have never been, immersing myself in a life I could never imagine before reading it in a book. The chapters alternate narrators between all siblings of the same family, but I related most to the sister Bibike.  While her life, hometown, family, and upbringing are so different from my own, there are also so many similarities in the way we think and feel. This realization makes me feel very connected to all women around the world, no matter our circumstances. Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Catapult in exchange for my honest review.
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  • Bryon Butler
    January 1, 1970
    A gushing NPR review led me to this book. I loved each chapter, believed in the characters and their situations, and wondered where each story would take me. Four siblings in Lagos, Nigeria, with a middle-class lifestyle are forced into poverty and parental abandonment. The chapters highlight their stories through the years, and those of their parents and grandmother. From youthful brushes with sex to delving into 21st century pop-culture-world evangelicalism, to ongoing themes of family A gushing NPR review led me to this book. I loved each chapter, believed in the characters and their situations, and wondered where each story would take me. Four siblings in Lagos, Nigeria, with a middle-class lifestyle are forced into poverty and parental abandonment. The chapters highlight their stories through the years, and those of their parents and grandmother. From youthful brushes with sex to delving into 21st century pop-culture-world evangelicalism, to ongoing themes of family disintegration, I was interested in each plot turn. The chapters are written as letters, or personal stories. Each is in a vibrant first person and each is strong. I had lived in Latin America and often saw ongoing, grinding poverty. I read of Nigerian poverty with interest, only to read that the author had fictionalized fair amounts of it. Yet, I could still see it clearly through Tola Rotimi Abraham’s prose. The realities of paucity and survival are powerful—which is what creates the scattered, bumpy plot. A well done first novel.
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  • Angie
    January 1, 1970
    Another beautiful story set in Lagos, Nigeria by a brilliant Nigerian writer!
  • Daniel Hooker
    January 1, 1970
    Engaging family drama told through each of four siblings
  • Neelam Babul
    January 1, 1970
    Black Sunday is Tola Rotimi Abraham's debut novel, set in Lagos, Nigeria. The book follows the fate of a Nigerian family as they go from enjoying a comfortable life to falling into poverty.Set in the 90s we meet a family of 6- mother, father, twin sisters Bibike and Ariyike and their two younger brothers-Andrew and Peter. They live a comfortable life since their mother holds a position in the government. When their mother loses her job and is forced to do jobs below her standing. The father is a Black Sunday is Tola Rotimi Abraham's debut novel, set in Lagos, Nigeria. The book follows the fate of a Nigerian family as they go from enjoying a comfortable life to falling into poverty.Set in the 90s we meet a family of 6- mother, father, twin sisters Bibike and Ariyike and their two younger brothers-Andrew and Peter. They live a comfortable life since their mother holds a position in the government. When their mother loses her job and is forced to do jobs below her standing. The father is a dreamer, the government changes, she loses her job and is forced to take up jobs which do not pay much at all. Their father tries out one scheme after another to no avail and ultimately ends up losing their home by letting one of his friends use the home as a collateral for a loan. In losing the family home, everything crashes including the family structure, the comfort of having a home and pursuing an education. The mother leaves for a new life in the US, the father leaves the four children with his mother as he goes off in search of money to provide for them. Black Sunday is told from the perspectives of the four children- twin sisters Bibike and Ariyike and their younger brothers Andrew and Peter. Over two decades we follow their lives through different point of views. However, the story did not just resonate with me as much as I thought it would. I felt like there was too much going on and not enough time to develop the plot and characters in the story. I also didn't like how women were portrayed as being victims of violence and mistreatment at the hands of men. I was also unimpressed with the ending of the story and felt it could have been better. I enjoyed reading the book but it could have been better.
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  • Emily
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars.Black Sunday tells the story of a Nigerian family living in Lagos, starting when twin girls Bibike and Ariyike and their brothers, Peter and Andrew, are children, and extending into their adulthood. Their parents disappear from their lives for various reasons and they're left to grow up in the care of their grandmother. Perspective shifts to a different sibling in each chapter, so we get bits and pieces from all four, which fit together into a complete picture of what's happening to 3.5 stars.Black Sunday tells the story of a Nigerian family living in Lagos, starting when twin girls Bibike and Ariyike and their brothers, Peter and Andrew, are children, and extending into their adulthood. Their parents disappear from their lives for various reasons and they're left to grow up in the care of their grandmother. Perspective shifts to a different sibling in each chapter, so we get bits and pieces from all four, which fit together into a complete picture of what's happening to the family.Tola Rotimi Abraham's writing is gorgeous and often poetic. For example:"Then she put her arms around me and cried with me, and this was how I knew that she felt all the things that I felt, and we did not sleep at all that night because we were the same sad the same angry the same afraid."And I liked the arc of the twins' relationship over the years, which is poignant and sad, and definitely the crux of the novel.My main qualm is that because of the book's length, we don't get enough time with each sibling. Their voices aren't developed to the point of being individual and recognizable, and that's a shame because there's clearly a lot of depth there that isn't explored on the page.I do recommend this one, though, and I'm looking forward to what Abraham writes next.
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  • Paul
    January 1, 1970
    One odd book, in which plenty happens but there is no narrative arc that I recognize. Two dreadful people abandon their four young children, who must find ways to survive in Lagos, which, in Ms. Abraham's description, is a city of sexual predators, phony preachers, beggars, hustlers, bottomless despair and limitless potential. I don't know if this is a portrait of a family so much as it is a portrait of a culture, since our quartet of heroes bounce from milieu to milieu in a way that left me One odd book, in which plenty happens but there is no narrative arc that I recognize. Two dreadful people abandon their four young children, who must find ways to survive in Lagos, which, in Ms. Abraham's description, is a city of sexual predators, phony preachers, beggars, hustlers, bottomless despair and limitless potential. I don't know if this is a portrait of a family so much as it is a portrait of a culture, since our quartet of heroes bounce from milieu to milieu in a way that left me puzzled about their trajectory but fascinated by Lagos: one goes to boarding school, one gets mixed up in an evangelical church, the other two exploit or are exploited by the people they encounter. Especially shocking is the episode in which the father loses all his money in -- wait for it -- a fake money-transfer scheme, which I now suspect was a Nigerian tradition before it became a global rite of passage on the Internet. Anyway, the randomness, or what I perceive to be randomness, intrigues me. If it's not randomness, it just confuses me. It was cool either way.
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  • Emily Tanner
    January 1, 1970
    This book was beautiful, but not a home run for me. I really look forward to reading more from the author, her voice and writing is impeccable. However, the story itself is where I got lost. A story of a family divided, told from multiple perspectives and timelines. I wish this novel had stuck to one or two voices instead of including so many perspectives. Additionally, the timeline of the story began to confuse me after a certain point. I also found myself dissatisfied with the ending. I wanted This book was beautiful, but not a home run for me. I really look forward to reading more from the author, her voice and writing is impeccable. However, the story itself is where I got lost. A story of a family divided, told from multiple perspectives and timelines. I wish this novel had stuck to one or two voices instead of including so many perspectives. Additionally, the timeline of the story began to confuse me after a certain point. I also found myself dissatisfied with the ending. I wanted more for these sisters that had been through so much! I know that's the way it goes sometimes, I just found this novel to be more frustrating than enjoyable in the end. I do believe the author has a gift with words and I would be excited to read more from her in the future!
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  • Sarah Baenen
    January 1, 1970
    This was an enlightening book about living in Lagos and all the problems that arise because of that. I was drawn in mostly by the setting; the characters themselves were also interesting, but for me, they sometimes lacked definition. I would have to really think about which twin sister the chapter was focusing on because although they had different aspirations and personalities, there was not much difference in the writing style, so it made it a little hard for me to remember who was who. I did This was an enlightening book about living in Lagos and all the problems that arise because of that. I was drawn in mostly by the setting; the characters themselves were also interesting, but for me, they sometimes lacked definition. I would have to really think about which twin sister the chapter was focusing on because although they had different aspirations and personalities, there was not much difference in the writing style, so it made it a little hard for me to remember who was who. I did appreciate that the story didn't present a simplified version of either sister. I also wonder why the author included the two brothers in the story. Sure, the sisters were tasked with their care and upbringing at an unusually young age, but beyond that, there didn't seem much development with the boys after their chapters ended. Overall, I learned a lot about what it meant to grow up in Lagos, so although the characters weren't as vibrant as I hoped, the novel was, overall, a good read.
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  • Wadzi
    January 1, 1970
    EXQUISITE. I inhaled this book. It was haunting and heartbreaking and I just couldn't peel my eyes away. I live for reading experiences like these - where the sheer quality of a work and its storyline both pull me in so forcefully. I will say though that this book is pretty bleak and contains a considerable amount of sexual assault, more than I was prepared to stomach and far more than I thought necessary. Otherwise, it is a triumph of a debut.
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  • Natalie
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 This book watches four siblings essentially fall apart as both their mom and dad abandon them. I appreciated the insights into modern day Nigeria, even though there wasn’t anything redeeming about this book. The treatment of women and the hypocritical “Christians” were pretty depressing. I liked the authors writing style although I felt like the book was kind of random with some of the characters stories never resolved or explained.
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  • Brianna Johnson
    January 1, 1970
    This was a very interesting story. I definately enjoyed reading about a different culture. My only critique would be that it was a little hard to follow and there were times I couldn't tell which main character was involved in the chapter I was on.
  • Carol Tilley
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 - enjoyed the multiple voices and insights into contemporary-ish Lagos.
  • Mikaela (Booklover1974)
    January 1, 1970
    This is a very depressing story and I didn't enjoy it.
  • Linda Anderson
    January 1, 1970
    I listened to this as an audiobook. It was okay. Gave me Grapes of Wrath vibes. It made me sad and left it open-ended.
  • Denise Bass
    January 1, 1970
    I enjoyed this! The author has a very dry writing style but I appreciated her ability to advance the story from different (yet similar) points of view. I'm curious to know what friends think of it.
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