The Bead Collector

Sefi Atta. Interlink, $25 (370p) ISBN 978-1-62371-985-2
Atta (Everything Good Will Come) examines the effects of Cold War world politics on individual relationships in this compelling if uneven novel. In 1976, six years after the Nigerian Civil War, Remi Lawal, mother, wife, and business owner, struggles to maintain a sense of normalcy, despite her husband’s forced “retirement” from his government job and the ongoing threat of another coup. At an art exhibition, she meets Frances Cooke, an American who’s in Nigeria buying rare beads. Though her husband insists Frances is a CIA spy, Remi soon bonds with Frances, confiding everything from her feeling about marriage and motherhood to her hopes for her country. But when Nigeria’s military ruler is assassinated, Remi begins questioning whether Frances was involved and her trust has been misplaced. Though Remi’s relationship with Frances feels very real, an unnecessary wealth of historic and scenic details prevents the story’s real emotional and political complexities from emerging until the second half. Despite its lack of narrative focus, this is a thought-provoking examination of the effects of colonialism, tradition, and fear on human interactions. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/19/2018
Release date: 09/01/2018
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-1-912408-34-4
Paperback - 376 pages - 978-1-62371-962-3
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