Stay with Me

Knopf. Aug. 2017. 288p. ISBN 9780451494603. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9780451494610. F
OrangeReviewStarDEBUT Magazine editor and short story writer Adebayo gifts readers with an emotionally powerful first novel that relies less on literary artifice and more on old-fashioned storytelling. She plumbs the depths of the loving marriage of Akin and Yejide, a couple complete in themselves, until Akin's family sows division by excoriating Yejide for failing to produce children. When her beloved mother-in-law introduces a second wife to the household, Yejide's anguish results in a cruel psychosis, a phantom pregnancy. Akin, meanwhile, without telling his wife, devises a duplicitous solution to the parenthood problem that will cause insurmountable troubles down the road. In alternating he said/she said chapters, each character reveals the best and worst of humanity, a generosity of spirit offset by a penchant for vitriol. Set against a backdrop of political unrest, Adebayo's novel explores the rifts between generations and exposes the devastating effects of sickle-cell disease on a full quarter of Nigeria's population.
VERDICT Recently short-listed for the 2017 Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction, Adebayo's work makes a blazing entry onto the list of young, talented writers from Nigeria. Readers who pick up this debut novel will not put it down until they've finished. Talk it up. [See Prepub Alert, 2/13/17.]
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