Review: Ogadinma Or, Everything Will Be All Right by Ukamaka Olisakwe

(published 18/01/2021)

There’s something unnerving about historical fiction that feels like it could have played out just the same today. Though set in a tumultuous Nigeria in the 1980s, Ogadinma’s themes are sadly, infuriatingly, entirely too relevant today. After a rape turns into an unwanted pregnancy, which in turn is resolved with a dangerous and illegal abortion, seventeen-year-old Ogadinma is forced to leave her home in Kano to live with her aunt and uncle in Lagos. This is the preferable outcome, as opposed to some hurried marriage to bury the shame of the situation – because, of course, it is Ogadinma’s shame to carry, not that of her rapist. Lagos in turn represents new ground and opportunities, and a chance to fall in love; but this veneer is rapidly shattered as the many ways men can control women in this society are put on display.

[Read full review on Bandit Fiction]

To Build a Home

(published in White Wall Review, 11/05/19)

Merethe’s not back,” Colton says as he walks into the room.

It’s 10:10pm. At 10:15pm, the automatic lockdown system would start. At 10:17pm, Sarah Hamilton, our long-suffering houseparent, would unwedge a strategic wellie from between the doors and let the lockdown system finish. I throw a coat over my pyjamas, grab my flip flops, and head out into the snow.

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The Day Before

[extract published in Kamena Magazine, 20/04/19]

My brother died on a Saturday. That morning we’d left him and my sister to mind the shop while Mutti took me on her errands. In the summer of 1939 she’d only just started working as a seamstress of sorts. Letting out waistbands, taking in waistbands, changing the neckline of a dress to make it look entirely new – odd jobs that were quick but required an experienced hand to get those neat, parallel stitches. It was all the fault of the church coffee ladies. Mutti had taken over the social club at the start of the year, and the minute those crow-eyed omas got their claws on her embroidered napkins, her fate was sealed.

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