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.

Mailbox Monday #726

Mailbox Monday has become a tradition in the blogging world, and many of us thank Marcia of The Printed Page for creating it.

It now has its own blog where book bloggers can link up their own mailbox posts and share which books they bought or which they received for review from publishers, authors, and more.

Emma, Martha, and I also will share our picks from everyone’s links in the new feature Books that Caught Our Eye. We hope you’ll join us.

Here’s what I received:

Twice in a Lifetime by Melissa Baron, borrowed from Hoopla, the library audio app.

Isla has fled the city for small-town Missouri in the wake of a painful and exhausting year. With her chronic anxiety at a fever pitch, the last thing she expects is to meet a genuine romantic prospect. And she doesn’t. But she does get a text from a man who seems to think he’s her husband. Obviously, a wrong number—except when she points this out, the mystery texter sends back a picture. Of them—on their wedding day.

Isla cautiously starts up a texting relationship with her maybe-hoax, maybe-husband Ewan, who claims to be reaching out from a few years into the future. Ewan knows Isla incredibly well, and seems to love her exactly as she is, which she can hardly fathom. But he’s also grieving, because in the future, he and Isla are no longer together.

Ewan is texting back through time to save her from a fate he is unwilling to share—and all she can do to prevent that fate is to learn to be happy, now, in the body she has, with the mind she has. The only trouble is the steps she takes in that direction might be steps away from a future with Ewan.

On Black Sisters Street by Chika Unigwe, borrowed from Hoopla, the library audio app.

What did you receive?