Ogadinma has been marketed as a “modern feminist classic,” and that was my attraction to the novel. Well, asides the fact that I’m always on the hunt for interesting Nigerian novels. Did this debut make the cut? I will reveal that in a bit.
Category: Literary Fiction
Publisher: The Indigo Press
Year of Publication: June 2020
Ogadinma Or, Everything Will be All Right tells the story of the naïve and trusting teenager Ogadinma as she battles against Nigeria’s societal expectations in the 1980s.
After a rape and unwanted pregnancy leave her exiled from her family in Kano, thwarting her plans to go to university, she is sent to her aunt’s in Lagos and pressured into a marriage with an older man. When their whirlwind romance descends into abuse and indignity, Ogadinma is forced to channel her independence and resourcefulness to escape a fate that appears all but inevitable.
Should You Bother Reading?
Ogadinma is a very easy book to read, I appreciated that. The best storytellers know how to ease you into uncomfortable territories. And this book did that. The descriptions are not overly flowery, it’s just enough to give you a sense of the geographical setting and time period. The language is simple without being simplistic (you know how much I hate that)
I didn’t love the character development in this book though. The novel is practically a coming-of-age story so I expected more in terms of the main character’s growth. I feel like, if the characters surrounding her were not so flat, the arcs would have been richer. That said, you will feel for her (Ogadinma) because she goes through a lot of shit.
At one point, I remember saying, “why don’t you fight back or something” but she is just a teenager who has been dealt with terrible cards. All I could do was read and hope that something works out for her. I don’t like to drop any spoilers because you need to read it organically without any bias and the book will be out June 18th, 2020.
As the title of the book translates, everything will be alright with our protagonist. This novel reminded me of Sefi Atta’s Everything Good Will Come, it has the same vibe. I fear some people might put this in the category of “trauma porn” and they might be right but it doesn’t take away from the enjoyment of the novel because the writing is very easy breezy for such heavy themes.
I hope a lot of book clubs pick this book when it’s out because it’s one of those books that make you want to speak up. If you’ve enjoyed books like The Joys of Motherhood by Buchi Emecheta or The Concubine by Elechi Amadi, you’ll enjoy Ogadinma.
About The Author
Ukamaka Olisakwe is a Nigerian novelist, short story writer, and screenwriter. In 2014 she was chosen as one of Sub-Saharan Africa’s most promising writers under the age of 40. She was born in Kano, Nigeria, and in 2016, was a resident at the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program.
Her writing has appeared in Catapult, the New York Times and The Rumpus. She wrote the screenplay for The Calabash, a Nigerian television series that premiered in 2015 on Africa Magic Showcase.
This Advanced Reader’s Copy was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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