cover image In Every Mirror She’s Black

In Every Mirror She’s Black

Lolá Ákínmádé Åkerström. Sourcebooks Landmark, $26.99 (416p) ISBN 978-1-72824-038-1

Three Black women in search of a better life end up in Sweden in this convincing debut from Nigerian writer Åkerström. Linking all three is wealthy, enigmatic CEO Johan “Jonny” von Lundin. Kemi Adeyemi, 34, a Nigerian American professional, is headhunted by Jonny’s Stockholm PR firm. Muna Saheed, a 20-year-old janitor at Jonny’s firm, fled from Somalia two years earlier, leaving behind her family and the man she was in love with. Flight attendant Brittany-Rae Johnson, 38, was born in America to first-generation immigrants from Jamaica, and her life changes when she meets Jonny on a plane, then moves to Stockholm and marries him, before learning he has a racial fetish and some heavy baggage involving an ex. The profusion of themes and plotlines, all tenuously connected to Jonny, can feel a bit unwieldy, but Åkerström powerfully conveys all of the women’s experiences with race as Muna is pushed to the limit with racist taunts from strangers and Kemi gradually comes to terms with the realities of the city’s currents of racism (“Stockholm tricked her. Seduced her with its beauty and then turned into an ugly monster in front of her”). All in all, it’s a worthy effort. Agent: Jessica Craig, Craig Literary. (Sept.)