Jollof Rice and Other Revolutions: A Novel in Interlocking Stories

HarperAudio. Sept. 2022. 6:10 hrs. ISBN 9780063117082. $21.99. F
Nigerian short-story writer and poet Ogunyemi debuts with a superlative collection of interconnected stories. The first begins in 1890s Nigeria, focusing on four young women—Nonso, Remi, Aisha, and Solape. They protest an unreasonable school headmistress, and this leads to a tragedy among their ranks. As viewpoints and time constantly shift, narrator Liz Femi impeccably conveys each girl (and later, woman). Narrator Korey Jackson appears briefly, but Femi takes center stage. Richly rendered details of cities, villages, friendships, and family relationships will keep listeners engaged. Particularly irresistible are glimpses of life in Nigeria. A passenger on a crowded jitney leads everyone (including a chicken) in prayer; after witnessing his mother being beaten by a brutal police officer, an eight-year-old boy leaves the family car and bites the unsuspecting man on the leg. The women continue to influence each other as they travel the world. In the final story, set in a dystopian 2050 United States, the women are elders, swept up in a finale that is as disturbing as it is credible.
VERDICT Superb narration enhances Ogunyemi’s extraordinary writing, with atmospheric Nigeria and its language making this audio a must-listen.
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