The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives: Lola Shoneyin

★★★

I picked this out at the library as part of my plan to read more fiction set in other cultures, and it was certainly illuminating, though I’m not able to judge how far (if at all) it’s exaggerated in regard to the characters’ beliefs, habits and interactions. Set in contemporary Nigeria, it follows the educated young woman Bolanle as she joins the prosperous household of Baba Segi as his fourth wife. Her arrival worsens the already fraught relationships between his existing wives and, ultimately, will destroy the very foundations of this uncomfortable ménage.

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Lament for the Fallen: Gavin Chait

★★★★

Again, it was the cover that did it. The eerie face, with its scored lines and sunburst of golden rays, reminded me of an ancient tribal mask. I was intrigued by the apparent disconnect between that and the sci-fi plot summarised on the back of the book. Gavin Chait’s first novel turned out to be quite different from any such novel I’ve read before, and not just for its African setting. While on the one hand it offers a sobering future, in which the planet’s ecology has been ravaged by greed, it also shows seedlings of hope, as people strive, even in the darkest days, to create a better world.

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