On Black Sisters Street by Chika Unigwe (audio)

Source: Library
Audiobook; 9+ hrs.
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On Black Sisters Street by Chika Unigwe, narrated by Chinasa Ojbuagu, is my 4th book for the 12 books 12 friends reading challenge.

***Those who have been raped, sexually assaulted, or human/sexually trafficked, be warned that this book is graphic and triggering.***

Sisi, Ama, Efe, and Joyce are four different women from Africa who come to Antwerp, Belgium, in pursuit of independence and finances for their own dreams in an unforgiving business of sex. Chinasa Ojbuagu‘s narration was not as differentiated as I would have liked for each character, and the story lines are fragmented, shifting from present to past, but it didn’t distract from the compelling story of these women.

While in Belgium, they each focus on their goals and share little of their real selves with the women they share an apartment with. Each has Madam and their pimp Dele in common, but their reasons for coming to Europe vary. In this book, desire is the main motivator – the desire for a better life among women under the thumb of men and society and for money as Dele and Madam use “slaves” to achieve their own dreams.

This novel is nothing but horrifying. There’s so much desire for a better life that these women are blinded by it, but at the same time, these women have faced significant trauma in their childhoods. Where is the bottom? Is there a new bottom? Or is the choice to sell yourself to men an empowering decision? This is muddled in the narrative because the trauma they face in their own nations would be a low point, but coming to Europe is not the freedom they expect it to be.

On Black Sisters Street by Chika Unigwe is stark in its horror, and remember these are real people’s lives (not just the lives of these characters). Reality can be the most horrifying thing you can face.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Author:

Chika Unigwe was born in Enugu, Nigeria, and now lives in Turnhout, Belgium, with her husband and four children. She writes in English and Dutch.

In April 2014 she was selected for the Hay Festival’s Africa39 list of 39 Sub-Saharan African writers aged under 40 with potential and talent to define future trends in African literature.
Unigwe holds a BA in English Language and Literature from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and an MA from the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium. She also holds a PhD from the University of Leiden, The Netherlands, having completed a thesis entitled “In the shadow of Ala. Igbo women writing as an act of righting” in 2004.