...stunning ... a beautifully produced book with a Matisse-inspired jacket that felicitously captures the spirit of the author’s writing — has a remarkable emotional resonance and depth of field. It is, at once, a gothic parable about pride and betrayal; a thoroughly contemporary — and deeply moving — portrait of a marriage; and a novel, in the lineage of great works by Chinua Achebe and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, that explores the pull in Nigeria between tradition and modernity, old definitions of masculinity and femininity, and newer imperatives of self-definition and identity. ... while readers may pick up on this novel’s many allusions and borrowings...Stay With Me feels entirely fresh, thanks to its author’s ability to map tangled familial relationships with nuance and precision, and her intimate understanding of her characters’ yearnings, fears and self-delusions ... Adebayo, who is 29, is an exceptional storyteller. She writes not just with extraordinary grace but with genuine wisdom about love and loss and the possibility of redemption. She has written a powerfully magnetic and heartbreaking book.
The most subtly brilliant aspect of Stay With Me is how this stunning literary work serves as both astute political commentary and unfolding mystery. Adebayo draws a clear parallel between the couple and the country: like Nigeria's middle class, quiescent in the face of political upheaval, Akin and Yejide keep accepting the unthinkable to keep their family intact ... This denial is corrosive. Because the reader is also faithful — to Akin and Yejide's stories — we see where we too chose to be blind.
Ayobami Adebayo’s taut, intimate debut novel, Stay With Me, skillfully dramatizes a worst-case scenario ... Rarely do novelists convey the mixed emotions of early motherhood — the tedium, confusion, terror, guilt, ecstasy and delight — as accurately as this book does. Yejide’s perspective...is conveyed with an operatic intensity that almost approaches the pitch of Elena Ferrante’s The Days of Abandonment. Adebayo’s prose is so direct you mainline the drama, rooting for Yejide and Akin to make it in spite of many narrative twists and turns that require a reconsideration of their relationship. The twists and turns make for powerful storytelling, but not all of the twists work ... Still, after many heartbreaking revelations, the novel resolves with an unexpected degree of warmth ... The story is ancient, but Adebayo imbues it with a vibrant, contemporary spirit.
...Adebayo keeps her vision taut and her writing concise. Stay with Me, longlisted for the Baileys women’s prize for fiction, is all the more affecting and powerful for it ... The intrigue of uncovering Akin’s deception is addictive, built up quickly through revelation and omission. Adebayo keeps the twists coming ... She is too subtle an author to offer a story with neat moral lessons, and her narrative is alive to the pressures Akin and Yejide face ... Adebayo’s prose is a pleasure: immediate, unpretentious and flecked with whip-smart Nigerian-English dialogue. She handles weighty themes with an absence of sentimentality. There are only three first-time novelists on this year’s Baileys longlist; Adebayo deserves her spot among them.
...animated dialogue is a delight throughout the novel, and Moomi’s voice is the loudest among the vivid, persuasive characters who bring this Yoruba community to life ... Adébáyò has been tutored in writing by both Margaret Atwood and fellow Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and though there is still room for growth, she has a thoroughly contemporary style that is all her own. Her clever and funny take on domestic life and Nigerian society is a welcome addition to her country’s burgeoning literary scene. Despite the intense sadness of her subject matter, she has produced a bright, big-hearted demonstration of female spirit, as well as the damage done by the boundlessness of male pride.
...a beautiful debut novel by 29-year-old Nigerian author and skilled storyteller Ayobami Adebayo ... Overall, it’s clear that the unexpected twists with the turn of each page have certainly helped lend to the success of this phenomenal novel ... Shortlisted for the 2017 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, Adebayo’s debut is undoubtedly one of the best reads of this year.
It would be easy for a writer to attack the societal customs that allow this couple’s pain to continue; Ayobami Adebayo’s debut, shortlisted for this year’s Baileys Women’s Prize, is much more subtle. She doesn’t sentimentalise the traditions that perpetuate Yejide’s struggles, and the inclusion of both their voices allows Akin particularly to become fully dimensional; this is not just a woman’s story ... This is a tale of real complexity and humanity, part psychological observation and social study.
Stay With Me is told in chapters that alternate between Yejide’s and Akin’s points of view. Unlike so many first-time novelists, Ms. Adebayo shows empathy with all her characters, no matter how selfish or wrongheaded they may sometimes be. Ms. Adebayo excels at conveying Yejide’s turbulent, and defiant, emotional life ... The book has a headlong momentum that keeps us turning the pages, but the strain of stage-managing all the secrets, betrayals, and misunderstandings that drive the plot sometimes shows. When the last page is turned and we think back over what has happened, plot holes that escaped us in this flurry of activity become apparent ... When Ms. Adebayo takes a moment to breathe, her characters express themselves with beautiful clarity...Moments like this, even more than the author’s gift for plot, are the reason to look forward to more work from Ayobami Adebayo.
Although Adebayo wields misfortune to shed light on the pressures of marriage, melodrama, at times, crowds out sympathy for the human-sized grief of her characters. Still, in the moments when Yejide confronts the fear and uncertainty of raising children with sickle cell anemia, Adebayo's writing shines ... Adebayo’s debut marks the emergence of a fine young writer.
Yejide’s strong ache to be a mother and her frustration with traditional Yoruba culture make her a complex character. Adebayo shows great promise in her debut novel. Her methodical exposure of her characters’ secrets forces the reader into continual reevaluations and culminates in a tender, satisfying conclusion.