cover image On Ajayi Crowther Street

On Ajayi Crowther Street

Elnathan John and Àlàbá Ònájìn. Cassava Republic, $24.95 (192p) ISBN 978-1-911115-90-8

At Reformed End-Time Ministries church, Reverend Akpoborie places his hands on a worshipper and in “da mighty name of Jesus” declares him healed from the sin of homosexuality. But hypocrisy runs deep in this biting satire written by John (Becoming Nigerian): the “healed” gay man is a hired actor, the scamming Reverend is himself full of demons, and his own children question their sexuality and relationships. In simple, jerky linework, Ònájìn captures the daily lives of families in modern Lagos, including splendid background details such as colorful billboards, opinionated aunties and their brilliant textiles, and Akpoborie’s frustrated daughters’ resplendent side-eyes. The flushed colors, interwoven family drama, and slice-of-life storytelling recall Marguerite Abouet and Clément Oubrerie’s Aya: Life in Yop City. Here also, the Akpoborie family and their neighbors’ intimate dramas of romance, religion, and reputation unfold amid a clamor of big social issues. Women discuss antigay legislation as they get their hair braided; a neighborhood meeting kicks off a debate over whether to speak in English, Yoruba, or Pidgin; a maid worries over where to sleep after her employer molests her. This wicked-funny tour of Nigerian life will be eye-opening for many American readers. [em](June) [/em]