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Under the Udala Trees, by Chinelo Okparanta.

August 14, 2015

Under the Udala Trees, by Chinelo Okparanta.  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Forthcoming September 2015.

 4 stars

A beautiful and brave novel about a young lesbian woman in Nigeria by an author from that country.

Chinelo Okparanta was born and raised in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. She came to the United States where she attended college and earned her MFA from the Iowa Writers Workshop. This is her first novel.

The central character of her novel is Ijeoma, an eleven-year-old girl at the time of the Biafran civil war. With her father dead, her mother sends her out as a “housegirl” where she meets another girl as homeless as herself. When they become lovers, Ijeoma learns that being a lesbian is not acceptable in Nigeria. As she comes of age, we see her face her mother’s Bible-based tirades, actual physical danger, and the despair of trying to be a “good wife.” Her confusion and pain is conveyed with strength and compassion.

I am glad to recommend this book, especially to all who assume that same-sex love has gained acceptance everywhere.  I look forward to more books by Okparanta in the future.

Thanks to Edelweiss and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for providing me with a review copy of this book.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 14, 2015 1:30 pm

    I’m making a note of this one, hoping it becomes available in the UK

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