cover image Jollof Rice and Other Revolutions

Jollof Rice and Other Revolutions

Omolola Ijeoma Ogunyemi. Amistad, $27.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-06-311704-4

Nigerian writer Ogunyemi debuts with a dynamic novel in stories featuring four women and their lost illusions. Schoolmates Nonso, Remi, Aisha, and Solape become close friends at a Nigerian boarding school in the 1980s, where, in the title story, the girls are consumed with “spite-filled delight” while protesting the school’s contentious principal for firing several beloved teachers. Their revolt, while personally liberating and unifying, ends tragically. The stories that follow explore their professional success and interpersonal betrayal. “Reflections from the Hood of a Car” picks up with Remi’s former lover, now living in the Bronx in 1991. In “Last Stop, Jibowu,” set in 2005, Nonso lives in Brooklyn and works as an investment banker, while the short “Area Boy Rescue” dictates the daily trials of Nonso’s housekeeper. The ambitious closer, “Messenger RNA,” set in 2050, imagines a 78-year-old Aisha savoring a “nice, comfortable silence” and the company of her granddaughter. Through the many leaps in time and views from supporting characters, Ogunyemi succeeds at showing how each of the four women’s lives were shaped by their fiery youth. These richly developed stories are resonant and rewarding. (Sept.)