Saturday, 1 June 2019

My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

Reviewer: Catriona Troth

What We Thought:

Ayoola summons me with these words – Koreda, I killed him. I had hoped I would never here these words again.

There are so many amazing authors, Nigerian or of Nigerian heritage, who today are providing an antidote to what Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie called ‘the dangers of the single story.’ Leye Adenle, Olumide Popoola, Chinelo Okparanta and Tomi Adeyemi, to name but a few, are creating stories that paint a far more nuanced picture of Nigeria than we in the West usually see, or drawing on traditional culture – be it Yoruba, Edo, Hausa – to create entirely new kinds of fantasy worlds.

The latest of these, for me, is Oyinkan Braithwaite. My Sister the Serial Killer is a fantastically original crime thriller. Like Leye Adenla’s Easy Motion Tourist it is set in Lagos, but in tone, style and setting, the two could hardly be more different.

This is the story of two sisters, Koreda and Ayoola, tied to one another by a secret that just keeps on getting darker. Ayoola is a fashion designer, spoilt and beautiful, the kind of person everyone falls in love with. Koreda is older, a senior nurse in a Lagos hospital, forever in her sister’s shadow.

There are shades here of Dexter (from the television series of that name or the crime series by Jeff Lindsay) – but Ayoola is no Dexter. She is chaotic, unpredictable and a nightmare for her sister. Koreda is the one who must think ahead. Spot dangers. And clean up after her sister.

The chapters here are very short – almost as if they were journal entries, or brief glimpses into Koreda’s mind, as Ayoola rocks her world again and again. There are flashbacks to a brutal upbringing with a tyrannical, abusive father, revealing the roots of a loyalty that goes deeper than self-preservation.

A darkly hilarious crime thriller, shortlisted for the 2019 Women’s Prize for literature and longlisted for the 2019 Man Booker prize.

You’ll Enjoy This If You Loved: Easy Motion Tourist by Leye Adenla, Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay

Avoid If You Dislike: Amoral Crime Thrillers.

Perfect Accompaniment: Pineapple upside down cake.

Genre: Crime

Available on Amazon

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