“I did not know how many worlds could fit into ours and not explode when they came in contact.”
Published: February 4th, 2020
Rate: 3 ⭐⭐⭐
Get a copy: Textbookcentre
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 is a coming of age story set over a period of decades that is cleverly written and I quite enjoyed it. Tola Rotimi’s writing is easy to follow through making the book a quick read. She’s brutally honest in this book and addresses essential problems throughout the book, affecting the twin sisters Bibike and Ariyike, and the effects on their siblings and those around them. It was brilliant to read.
The morally grey characters are a joy to watch and read. I believe life is not black and white and its really interesting to see it depicted in this characters. How far would you go? Sacrifices we make for those we love… À few thoughts that were going through my mind as I read the book.
“In our home, everything was at stake. Nothing was inconsequential. Even the way you said good morning could set them off.”
In as a much as I liked the book, I found it a bit lacking. The book is told in multiple point of views and it felt more like a short story collection than a novel. I wanted more, yet each chapter would end leaving me hanging like that because the next chapter is something totally different.
Black Sunday is Tola Rotimi’s debut book and I’m quite interested in reading more of her works.
Have you read Black Sunday? What did you think about it?