Okparanta tackles a series of issues from the seemingly mundane to something as sizzling as homosexuality using beautiful prose and evocative words. Her narrators tell their stories with such strength that the reader is compelled to see the truth of their lives. These stories take you by surprise and remind you of how the portrait of a people and a place can be distilled through a story; how a story can transport you to times long forgotten and if you grew up as a child in West Africa, you may find yourself in one of them.
I’d sit on a bamboo mat, and she’d light a candle, allow its wax to drip onto the bottom of an empty can of evaporated milk, a naked can, without its paper coating. She’d stick the candle on the wax and allow it to harden in place, and then she’d begin the story.
From the woman who is forced to go through a lot just to have a child; to the quietly scary Nneoma who murders pregnant women she meets in church; to Grace who is to be married but falls in love with another – an older woman, Okparanta dares to tell stories that would otherwise be hidden, and she tells it using familiar spaces…ones that a lot of us would recognise.
Although I wished the book did not begin with “On Ohaeto Street”, it cannot be denied that this book describes the human condition using literary flair.